Boing Boing 

New FCC rules will let a single company own a town's ISP, newspapers, 2 TV stations and 8 radio stations


Josh from Free Press sez, " FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski wants to gut existing rules that limit media consolidation. This is bad news for people who care about the effects of too much media in too few hands. Genachowski's proposed plan would make our media less diverse, create local media monopolies and ultimately mean less news. This rule would allow ONE company to own a daily newspaper, two TV stations and up to eight radio stations in your town. And that one company could be your Internet provider, too. Scary."

No More Media for Murdoch [Petition to FCC]

Greenpeace's anime video about hazardous chemicals and fashion

Brian from Greenpeace sez, "They say you can tell what next season's hottest trend will be by looking at the colour of the rivers in China and Mexico due to the dyes and hazardous chemicals used by the fashion industry. An animated collaboration between Greenpeace and Free Range studios (creators of such activist classics as Meatrix and Story of Stuff) exposes the trail of hazardous chemicals from factories in the developing world to the clothes the developed world buys. Greenpeace claims some of the chemicals present in trace amounts in those clothes are banned in European and the US, making your washing machine a potential source of illegal hazardous waste."

TOXIC IS SO LAST SEASON (Thanks, Brian!)

Staples to get in-store 3D printers

Some Staples stores in Belgium and the Netherlands will have MCOR color 3D printers that will print out model-files uploaded to a store website for in-person pickup. MCOR printers use plain pulp paper as build material, so the resulting models will be essentially cellulose, dye and glue, and should be easy to recycle.

Staples’ Easy 3D will offer consumers, product designers, architects, healthcare professionals, educators, students and others low-cost, brilliantly coloured, photo-realistic 3D printed products from Staples stores. Customers will simply upload electronic files to the Staples Office Centre and pick up the models in their nearby Staples stores, or have them shipped to their address. Staples will produce the models with the Mcor IRIS, a 3D printer with the highest colour capability in the industry and lowest operating cost of any commercial-class 3D printer.

The press release promises that this technology will be made available in other Staples stores around the world.

Mcor Technologies and Staples division launch 3D printing service

Makie doll in a Minecraft sweater


This adorable Makie doll went to MineCon, a Minecraft convention in Paris, with its owner MoggyMoo and her son, a Minecraft enthusiast. In honour of the occasion, Moggymoo knit a tiny custom Minecraft creeper jumper for it to wear.

Meena is going to MineCon (Thanks, Alice!)

(Disclosure: My wife is the founder of MakieLab)

Story Dice: app for storytelling fun


Last week, my nine-year-old daughter Jane and I were interviewed on NPR about some of our favorite apps for the family. One of our picks was Story Dice. This attractively-designed iOS app lets you roll virtual dice that have a number of different symbols on their faces. You can select the number of dice per throw (from 1 to 10). Every time you shake the phone or tap the screen you get a new throw of the dice. I'm not sure how many different symbols there are, but I see new ones all the time, and we have played with this app quite a bit.

Read the rest

Demdike Stare's "Hashshashin Chant" (music video)

NewImageA fantastically-psychotronic and insane video for "Hashshashin Chant" by Demdike Stare, available on their out-of-print Voices of Dust LP or the Triptych box set compiling all three of their essential 2010 albums.

Floppy Table made from rolled steel, with hidden compartment


Neulant van Exel's Floppy Table is made from rolled steel, and its dust-guard slides aside to reveal a cavity for storing your TV remote. No pricing info, so I assume this is one of those, "If you have you ask, you can't afford it" deals.

Material:

Hot-rolled steel (welded)
Stainless steel (welded)

Measures:

27.56" width x 25.59" height x 17.72" depth
70cm width x 45cm height x 65cm depth

Extras: Secret space

Floppy Table (via JWZ)

3D printing with moon-dust

Researchers from the School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering at Washington State University have built a 3D printer that can use sorted (simulated) Lunar regolith (moon dust) to print out "crude" objects. This is the premise of a novella I'm working on, so it's pretty exciting to see:

Amit Bandyopadhyay and Susmita Bose, using simulated lunar regolith that are analogies to moon rocks, have used 3D printing to create a number of crude objects. The simulated regolith, found on Earth and supplied by NASA, contains silicon, aluminum, calcium, iron and magnesium oxides but behaves like silica when melted by a laser. Once the regolith is melted, a 3D printer creates objects out of it layer by layer.

Using moon rocks shaped by 3D printers as building material or simple spare parts and tools would vastly decrease the expense of building and maintaining a lunar settlement. 3D printing also has considerable promise for Earth bound construction.

Researchers build objects with 3D printing using simulated moon rocks [Examiner] (via /.)

Gigapixel images of Charles Babbage's Difference Engine #2


Greg sez, "This project is using a number of computational photography techniques to document Charles Babbage's 'Difference Engine No 2' for the Computer History Museum in Mountain View. There are interactive gigapixel images for the four cardinal views of the device available to view."

Babbage Difference Engine in Gigapixel (Thanks, Greg!)

Joss Whedon's extracurricular Much Ado About Nothing gets a release date

That Shakespeare movie that Joss Whedon shot in 12 days (during some spare time while shooting The Avengers) has gotten an official theatrical release date: June 7, 2013. Filmed in glorious black and white, Much Ado About Nothing features several Whedon favorites, like Fran Kranz (The Cabin in the Woods) as Claudio, Alexis Denisof (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) as Benedick, Amy Acker (also Buffy) as Beatrice, and Clark Gregg (The Avengers) as Leonato. Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions stepped up to give this movie a chance in theaters so people could actually see it, because poor Joss Whedon is going seriously unrecognized for his cinematic efforts these days. (photo via Ginsberg Libby)

Cartoonist group photo in Toronto restaurant


A gaggle of devastatingly handsome cartoonists pose for a group portrait in a Toronto restaurant. Left to right: Chris Ware, Charles Burns, Seth, Chester Brown, Anouk Ricard, Peter Birkemoe, Adrian Tomine. (photo: Nathalie Atkinson)

Make editors and contributors in a Google Hangout at 2pm PST

Join the editors and contributors of MAKE in a Google Hangout right now. We'll be talking about 3D printers and content in the latest issue.

Ad for freelance Russian bank-robbers


Brian Krebs has published an ad from "Foreign Agents," a notorious Russian crime service. They're advertising the availability of foot soldiers in the USA who can help cash out hacked bank accounts and credit cards. Unlike traditional bank-fraud mules, who don't know that they're part of a scam, these "associates" are "неразводные" ("nerazvodni" or "not deceived").

The proprietors of this service say it will take 40-45 percent of the value of the theft, depending on the amount stolen. In a follow Q&A with potential buyers, the vendors behind this service say it regularly moves $30,000 – $100,000 per day for clients. Specifically, it specializes in cashing out high-dollar bank accounts belonging to hacked businesses, hence the mention high up in the ad of fraudulent wire transfers and automated clearinghouse or ACH payments (ACH is typically how companies execute direct deposit of payroll for their employees).

According to the advertisement, customers of this service get their very own login to a remote panel, where they can interact with the cashout service and monitor the progress of their thievery operations. The service also can be hired to drain bank accounts using counterfeit debit cards obtained through ATM skimmers or hacked point-of-sale devices. The complicit mules will even help cash out refunds from phony state and federal income tax filings — a lucrative form of fraud that, according to the Internal Revenue Service, cost taxpayers $5.2 billion last year.

Say what you will about their criminal tendencies, those bank robbers have excellent art direction.

Online Service Offers Bank Robbers for Hire

Alec Baldwin sends the saddest tweet ever about 30 Rock

Guys, it's really going to be ending soon. Alec Baldwin sent this profoundly monumental message (at least for 30 Rock fans) this afternoon, reminding everyone that there is, indeed, a limited amount of episodes of NBC's 30 Rock left. But before we mourn, tonight is the episode in which Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) gets married to Criss Chross (James Marsden). Visit Flavorwire if you will be throwing a cocktail party, because they have some fancy mixed drinks just for the occasion! (via Alec Baldwin on Twitter, Flavorwire)

How to make surprise balls


Erica at Honestly…WTF has a nice tutorial on how to make pretty "Surprise Balls," which are balls of brightly colored and decorated crepe paper that contain multiple goodies in the layers of wrapping. I want one filled with dark-chocolate covered coffee beans.

Prepare the supplies by cutting the fine crepe paper, lengthwise, into three 1″ strips per color. When picking out the toys, candy, and surprises, be sure to select an assortment of sizes from larger round shaped items to small flat items. Start by wrapping the largest item. Work in a criss cross pattern to cover as much surface area as possible.

Visit her site for the complete step-by-step

Some planets are harder to leave than others

At his Psychology Today blog, Michael Chorost delves into a question about exoplanets that I've not really thought much about before — how easy they would be to leave.

Many of the potentially habitable exoplanets that we've found — the ones we call "Earth-like" — are actually a lot bigger than Earth. That fact has an effect — both on how actually habitable those planets would be for us humans and how easily any native civilizations that developed could slip the surly bonds of gravity and make it to outer space.

The good news, says Chorost is that the change in surface gravity wouldn't be as large as you might guess, even for planets much bigger than Earth. The bad news: Even a relatively small increase in surface gravity can mean a big increase in how fast a rocket would have to be going in order to leave the planet. It starts with one equation — SG=M/R^2.

Let’s try it with [exoplanet] HD 40307g, using data from the Habitable Exoplanet Catalog. Mass, 8.2 Earths. Radius, 2.4 times that of Earth. That gets you a surface gravity of 1.42 times Earth.

... it’s amazingly easy to imagine a super-Earth with a comfortable gravity. If a planet had eight Earth masses and 2.83 times the radius, its surface gravity would be exactly 1g. This is the “Fictional Planet” at the bottom of the table. Fictional Planet would be huge by Earth standards, with a circumference of 70,400 miles and an area eight times larger.

Does that mean we could land and take off with exactly the same technology we use here, assuming the atmosphere is similar? Actually, no. Another blogger, who who goes by the moniker SpaceColonizer, pointed out that Fictional Planet has a higher escape velocity than Earth. Put simply, escape velocity is how fast you have to go away from a planet to ensure that gravity can never bring you back. For Earth, escape velocity is about 25,000 miles per hour. Fictional Planet has an escape velocity 68% higher. That’s 42,000 miles per hour.

Read the full story at Psychology Today blogs

Thanks to Apollo 18, who also helped with the math for Chorost's post.

Image: Vintage ad via Christian Montone

Lost nearly had a completely different leader, who probably wouldn't have grown a beard

Remember the Bad Jack Beard from Lost? The one on Matthew Fox's face that kept insisting that everyone had to go back to the island? If the show's creators had gone with their original plan, that beard would have never existed. In an excerpt of The Revolution Was Televised (featured on Grantland), Alan Sepinwall's new book about the making of ABC's cult hit, it's revealed that despite his early, leaderly standing among the castaways, Jack (Fox) was almost offed and replaced by Kate (Evangeline Lilly).

In the vein of Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho (or even the pilot of Oz), they planned to pull the rug out from under the audience by killing Jack midway through the first episode, forcing Kate to take charge. After this sudden demise, viewers would realize no one was safe. [Damon] Lindelof says Steve McPherson, then the head of the ABC studio, made a convincing counter-argument that it would teach viewers not to trust the show, and the writers ultimately agreed with him.

In the end, it was decided that the character of Kate wasn't dynamic enough to lead the show; in fact, she had not originally been written as the fugitive she turned out to be. Instead, she was one half of a couple who had been separated in the plane crash. (Those roles ultimately switched over to Rose and Bernard.) Switching from Kate to Jack may have been the best course if her character hadn't been completely decided on. But it's kind of a bummer, especially when you consider that the show's creator, J.J. Abrams, had such great luck with his other two female-led shows, Felicity and Alias.

Photo credit: Tumblr

Who'd have been Lost's leader if they'd killed Jack in the pilot [Blastr]

Arduino's co-creator explains electronic circuits for absolute beginners

Massimo Banzi is the co-creator and CEO of Arduino. (What's Arduino? It's a fantastic electronics prototyping platform for everyone). In this video, Massimo covers a lot of ground -- he explains what a circuit is, what several common components are, and how to connect them together using a solderless breadboard.

Want to learn more? Check out Massimo's excellent book, Getting Started with Arduino.

Arduino Video Tutorial 01: Get to know your Tools with Arduino CEO Massimo Banzi (see all the tutorials here)

Christopher Lee reads "The Nightmare Before Christmas," the poem that inspired the movie

(Video link) In case you're still wistful for some spooky Halloween-type stuff, but are secretly excited for the winter holidays, here is the great Christopher Lee, narrating the poem "The Nightmare Before Christmas" by Tim Burton. Burton wrote his poem in 1982 while working as an animator for Disney (the same year he made his short, Vincent), then later turned into one of the best stop-motion movies ever. 'Tis the season, whichever season you prefer! (via Neatorama)

Two dozen Tibetans have set themselves on fire this month, in protest of Chinese rule

At least 24 ethnic Tibetans have burned themselves alive this month alone, in "a dramatic acceleration of the protests against authoritarian Chinese rule," and "a new phase in the Tibetan protests," according to the AP. Close to 100 have self-immolated since 2009, but what's different, in addition to the sheer numbers, is that most self-immolators now are lay people, not monks or nuns.

Hiccup video, the gangsta rap remix

Remix of an instant classic blogged previously here. It's hard to imagine a remix improving this instant classic of the "suck it, haters" Youtube genre, but with this work of art, Joe Sabia has accomplished just that.

Underground cartoonist Spain Rodriguez, RIP


Members of the Sixth International are wearing black armbands today to memorialize the passing of the great cartoonist Spain Rodriguez.

A "not insignificant" defense of gleeful scientists

Just a few minutes ago, researchers with NASA's MESSENGER mission announced the publication of data that strongly suggests the poles of Mercury contain significant quantities of frozen water.

On the one hand, this is not exactly new news. The possibility of water on Mercury has been a topic of research for something like 20 years. And scientific discoveries tend to move in little mincing steps, not giant leaps, so there have been lots of previous announcements about evidence supporting the hypothesis of water of Mercury — including very similar announcements from the MESSENGER team in December 2011 and March 2012. Your life will not change in any significant way because there is frozen water on Mercury. You probably won't even make a note to tell your children where you were the day NASA announced that ice most likely existed there.

But that doesn't mean this news isn't damned exciting. And it doesn't mean that the scientists involved shouldn't be giddy about it. We are, after all, talking about a mission that sent a spacecraft into orbit around another planet and has quite likely found frozen water sitting on a landscape that is hot enough to melt lead. What's more, they think that ice is covered in places by a thin layer of some coal or tar-like organic material. That is huge news. It's going to change textbooks. And because the scientists think both the ice and the organic material got to Mercury via collisions with asteroids and comets, it's going to be an important part of our ongoing efforts to understand how life begins on planets like Earth.

All of this makes for a really nice, topical lead-in to an essay Robert Gonzalez published on iO9 today. It's totally reasonable to be frustrated by the recent whiplash of hearing that Curiosity discovered something "Earth-shattering" on Mars, only to have that announcement quickly revised to something "interesting" and/or "not insignificant". But, Gonzalez argues, it's also reasonable for scientists to look at something that is merely not insignificant from the public perspective and see it, from their own perspective, as groundbreaking. In fact, he says, we want more scientists who get excited about their work, not fewer.

Read the rest

Elephant plays piano

We've blogged videos before from Paul Barton, a piano instructor and performer based in Thailand who sometimes performs at elephant sanctuaries—and by that, I mean, he performs for the elephants. But this new video is the most amazing yet. He explains:

Read the rest

Occupy Sandy doc screened at secret cinema

A documentary about Occupy Sandy was screened at a secret location in NYC last night; it made the connection between Sandy and climate change. People wanting to see the movie were directed to a building whose wall was used as a screen for the premiere.

Now, in what may be the quickest turnaround for a movie in recent memory, the group, Occupy Sandy, will show a documentary Wednesday about its efforts and the contention that the storm was tied to climate change and the fossil fuel industry. In classic Occupy fashion, the screening will not be in a traditional theater, but rather on the side of a yet-to-be-disclosed building in the East Village.

The screening of the film, “Occupy Sandy: A Human Response to the New Realities of Climate Change” (see trailer above or click here), will be at 6:30 p.m.

‘Occupy’ Movement’s Next Guerrilla Effort: A Film Screening [NYT]

OCCUPY SANDY TRAILER IS UP! WORLD PREMIERE NEW SHORT FILM! NYC. NOV. 28th. [Vimeo]

#climatecrime [Twitter]

Authors get option to take their 35-year-old books back this Jan

This January sees the first cohorts of books whose authors can terminate their contracts with their publishers under a 1978 law that lets authors kill their old deals after 35 years. Given all the interesting stuff happening with backlists and ebooks, expect to see a lot of authors being courted by, say, Amazon with big fat advances for their profitable backlists if they yank their books and make them Amazon-exclusive. And this is going to happen every year from now on.

The law in question is Section 203 of the 1978 Copyright Act which allows authors to cut away any contract after 35 years. Congress put it in place to protect young artists who signed away future best sellers for a pittance.

“People have had 2013 circled on their calendar for a while,” said Andrew Bart, a copyright lawyer at Jenner & Block, in a phone interview...

The 1978 law also means a threat to the back list of titles that are a cash cow for many publishers. The threat is amplified as a result of new digital distribution options for authors that were never conceived when the law was passed — these new options mean authors have more leverage to walk away from their publishers altogether.

Publishers brace for authors to reclaim book rights in 2013 (via Making Light)

Orientation video for Bell Labs programmers, 1973

Here's a 1973 orientation video from Bell Labs' Holmdel Computer Center, to get new, budding Unix hackers acquainted with all the different apparatus available to them, and also to let them know which counter to visit to get a different tape loaded onto one of the IBM mainframes.

The Holmdel Computer Center, Part 1 (Thanks, Dan!)

8-bit popup cards

NewImageI recently discovered a craft blog called Minieco, created by Kate Lilley. She's the author of a book called Eco-Friendly Crafting With Kids. Her blog is filled with tutorials for making colorful and artistically refined things out of simple materials (often colored paper.)

Read the rest

The many stages of writing a research paper

Timothy Weninger recently submitted a research paper to a computer science conference called World Wide Web. On his way to that, he went through 463 drafts. Bear in mind, this paper has only been submitted, not yet accepted, so there's probably even more edits that are still yet to happen. Welcome to the life of a scientist.

In this video, Weninger created a timelapse showing all the different stages of his writing process, as he added graphs and went through cycles of expanding, contracting, and expanding the text. But mostly expanding. The paper grows from two pages to 10 by the end of the video.

[Video Link]

Via Bill Bell

MoMA's new videogame collection

NewImageNew York's Museum of Modern Art has acquired 14 videogames that will be playable in a gallery there beginning in March 2013. According to Paola Antonelli, the MoMA's senior curator of architecture and design, these titles are "the seedbed for an initial wish list of about 40 to be acquired in the near future, as well as for a new category of artworks." I'm delighted that my favorite game, Pac-Man (1980), was part of the initial acquisition. The others include: Tetris (1984), Another World (1991), Myst (1993), SimCity 2000 (1994), vib-ribbon (1999), The Sims (2000), Katamari Damacy (2004), EVE Online (2003), Dwarf Fortress (2006), Portal (2007), flOw (2006), Passage (2008), and Canabalt (2009). "Video Games: 14 in the Collection, for Starters"