Funny fake planning notices

Artist/prankster Phil Lucas puts up fake "planning notices" around Brighton, England, announcing his plans to radically improve the cityscape and inviting people to comment via the local government's planning authority.

I live in Hackney, which boasts England's "worst performing planning authority" (as one MP recently put it in Parliament), so I sympathise with these shenanigans. I've been through multiple planning petitions for permission to put a glass box on my disused balcony to grow plants in and use as a dining room in warm months, and have been turned down because it would "disrupt the street-scene" on my manky, dogshit-strewn, tumbling-down road in east London.

Planning Notices in Brighton (Thanks, Fipi Lele!) Read the rest

Library gift-shop, on wheels, in LA

Katie from the Library Foundation of Los Angeles sez, "The Library Store On Wheels, a mobile truck version of the Library Foundation of Los Angeles' beloved Central Library gift store (which LA Weekly named 'LA's Best Gift Shop'this year) hits the road December 10. Over the next two weeks, we'll be taking the mobile store around to different Los Angeles Public Library branches, as well as Amoeba Music. Packed to the gills with the most lovingly-curated selection of lit-themed gifts and nostalgic library decor, all proceeds from the store will go to benefit the Los Angeles Public Library." Read the rest

Postmortem on the Daily

Writing on Reuters, Felix Salmon has a good postmortem on the demise of the Daily, Rupert Murdoch's iPad-only, $30,000,000 subscription-based newspaper, which folded yesterday. Among other things, he writes about print media's enthusiasm for iPads, and the inability of closed ecosystems to out-iterate the open Web:

When the iPad was first announced, there were lots of dreams about what it could achieve, and how rich its content could be. But in hindsight, it’s notable how many of the dreamers came from the world of print. Web people tended to be much less excited about the iPad than print people were, maybe because they knew they already had something better. The web, for instance, doesn’t need to traffic in discrete “issues” — if you subscribe to the New York Times, you can read any story you like, going back decades. Whereas if you subscribe to a publication on a tablet, you can read only one issue at a time...

Similarly, when the iPad launched, it allowed people to do things they could never do with a print publication: watch videos, say. But at the same time the experience was still inferior to what you could get on the web, which iterates and improves incrementally every day. The iPad then stayed still — the technology behind iPad publications is basically the same as it was two years ago — even as the web, in its manner, predictably got better and better.

I was skeptical of the iPad for this reason from the start:

I think that the press has been all over the iPad because Apple puts on a good show, and because everyone in journalism-land is looking for a daddy figure who'll promise them that their audience will go back to paying for their stuff.

Read the rest

Petition to make gender-neutral Easy-Bake Ovens

Mckenna Pope of Garfield, NJ has started a petition -- with just over 23,000 signatures at time of writing (including mine) -- to Hasbro, asking them to produce a gender-neutral version of the Easy-Bake Oven, so that her cooking-crazed little brother won't feel excluded from his passions:

My little brother has always loved cooking. Being in the kitchen is his favorite out of school activity, and he yearns to have the opportunity to cook on his own, or at least with limited help.

Imagine my surprise when I walked into his room to find him "cooking" tortillas by placing them on top of his lamp's light bulb! Obviously, this is not a very safe way for him to be a chef, so when he asked Santa for his very own Easy-Bake Ultimate Oven, produced by the Hasbro company, for me to help him be the cook he's always wanted to be, my parents and I were immediately convinced it was the truly perfect present.

However, we soon found it quite appalling that boys are not featured in packaging or promotional materials for Easy Bake Ovens -- this toy my brother's always dreamed about. And the oven comes in gender-specific hues: purple and pink.

I feel that this sends a clear message: women cook, men work.

Hasbro: Feature boys in the packaging of the Easy-Bake Oven (via ThinkProgress) Read the rest

The making of "It's a SpongeBob Christmas" stop-motion episode

If you're a fan of Rankin Bass style Christmas Specials like I am, you should tune into SpongeBob Squarepants on December 9th [UPDATE: the special will now air tomorrow, 12/6 at 8pm] to watch "It's a SpongeBob Christmas!" (which Jason posted about here in November). I watched a screener and they perfectly captured the look and feel of those delightful old stop motion specials.

Mark Caballero and Seamus Walsh directed "It's a SpongeBob Christmas!," which features the beloved iconic character SpongeBob Squarepants animated in stop-motion for the first time. The half-hour holiday special will air on Nickelodeon Sunday, December 6th at 8:00pm (ET/PT). It’s a SpongeBob Christmas! was inspired by the classic Rankin/Bass specials (Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town) and the popular SpongeBob song released in 2009, “Don’t Be a Jerk (It’s Christmas),” co-written by Tom Kenny (voice of SpongeBob) and Andy Paley. The special features John Goodman as Santa Claus.

In "It’s A SpongeBob Christmas!" Plankton turns everybody in Bikini Bottom from nice to naughty by feeding them his special jerktonium-laced fruitcake all in an effort to get his Christmas wish -- the Krabby Patty formula. The Nickelodeon premiere will include bonus scenes featuring a stop-motion version of the character “Patchy,” also voiced by Tom Kenny.

Work began on the "It’s A SpongeBob Christmas!" in October 2011 at Screen Novelties production studio, where the Mark, Seamus and Chris Finnegan (Producer) worked closely with Paul Tibbitt (Executive Producer), Steve Hillenburg (Creator) and Vincent Waller (Creative Director) to ensure the two-dimensional cartoon characters were properly translated into three-dimensional puppets.

Read the rest

Star Trek Federation: The First 150 Years

Here's my jaw-droppingly professional unboxing video of Star Trek Federation: The First 150 Years by David A. Goodman.

Open, CC-licensed photo course draws up to 35,000 students

The BBC's picture editor Phil Coomes has a long, excellent feature on the open education photography classes offered by Jonathan Worth and Matt Johnston through Coventry University. The course is open to anyone in the world, via webcast, and runs with up to 35,000 students. The class focuses not just on technique, but on the role of photographers in the 21st century, when everyone has a cameraphone, and when controlling copies of photos on the net is an impossibility.

He uses Creative Commons licenses (CC) for his classes. "I'd always been an avid All Rights Reserved user but it just stopped making sense. The open classes can only work with a CC license, which was a big deal for the university because it turns out education establishment are avid All Rights Reserved users too. Much like me thinking I was just an image maker, the uni thought its product was 'knowledge' and their old business model relied on keeping a tight grip on that.

"Well, I knew it wasn't my product as a teacher. My product is the learning experience and opening the doors online meant that I turned that product into an outward-facing asset.

"In a world where everyone with a smartphone is a potential supplier of image content, I had to work out what I did that was different, and it turns out there's a whole bunch of stuff both as an artisan and as a mediator and publisher.

"On a personal level I also found out that this stuff has applications in other areas too - education being a case in point, where I realised the real thing of value was not the knowledge but the learning experience.

Read the rest

Plush Fin Fin virtual pet toy needed by distraught Boing Boing reader's grandson

Edwin's grandson fell in love with Fin Fin, a defunct plush virtual pet last offered by Fujitsu in 1996. Now Fin Fin has disappeared and he's desperate to replace Fin Fin for Christmas. If you've got one, he wants to buy it from you. Read his note after the jump. Read the rest

Major studios send legal threats to Google demanding removal of links to their own Facebook pages and more

One things the movie studios say in copyright takedown discussions is that they're very careful when they send legal threats to Google demanding removal of links to pirated copies of their work. I mean, maybe some little guys out there play fast and loose, but the Big Five? They're grownups, man.

Then, this happened:

On behalf of Lionsgate a DMCA notice was sent to Google, asking the search engine to remove links to infringing copies of the movie “Cabin in the Woods”. The notice in question only lists two dozen URLs, but still manages to include perfectly legal copies of the film on Amazon, iTunes, Blockbuster and Xfinity.

20th Century Fox sent in a DMCA notice to protect the movie “Prometheus”. However, as collateral damage it also took down a link to a legal copy on Verizon on demand, the collection of the Prometheus Watch Company, and a Huffington Post article.

And what about a DMCA takedown request for the Wikipedia entry of “Family Guy” that is supposedly infringing?

Perhaps even more crazy is another request sent on behalf of 20th Century Fox for “How I Met Your Mother”. The DMCA notice lists a CBS URL as the official source of the copyrighted material, but the same URL later appears in the list of infringing links.

There's lots more. For example, BBC Films sent Google a notice demanding removal of links to its own Facebook page.

Movie Studios Ask Google To Censor Their Own Films, Facebook and Wikipedia [TorrentFreak] Read the rest

Yosemite's Bracebridge Dinner

Last year I had the incredibly good fortune to attend Yosemite's Bracebridge Dinner.

Trailer for Breaking the Taboo: documentary about the disastrous results of the war on drugs

This groundbreaking new documentary uncovers the UN sanctioned war on drugs, charting its origins and its devastating impact on countries like the USA, Colombia and Russia.

You can be a loser at the game of social ostracism

Now you can play Cyberball — a computer game that psychology researchers use to study the effects of social ostracism and hurt feelings. Normally, the game is played by test subjects who are hooked up to some kind of brain scanning system and who are told that they are playing against other test subjects in other rooms. In reality, they (and now you!) are playing against a computer program that is designed to exclude you and make you feel unwelcome. Why would someone design such a thing? For science! Of course. (Via Rowan Hooper) Read the rest

How to learn hiragana in one hour or less

A week or so ago I decide to relearn hiragana and katakana (Japanese syllabaries), which I'd completely forgotten. I loaded a hiragana flashcard set onto iAnki (read Gary Wolf's excellent Wired article about the guy who invented the memory technique that iAnki employs) and went to work. Progress was brutally slow.

I looked around the iTunes store and came across Dr. Moku's Hiragana Mnemonics. It presents each character as an appealing and memorable cartoon - a rabbit eyeing a carrot, a dude with food, a farting cow. Each flashcard is a different color (to "refresh your brain" with each new character). Thirty minutes later I had memorized all 46 hiragana. Now my 9-year-old is learning them, and having a lot of fun. (of course, learning to write hiragana is going to take much more time).

Now it's time for Dr. Moku's Katakana Mnemonics. Read the rest

Fun family science project — electric lighting from trash

The Joule Thief is a way of producing enough electricity to run small, but useful, electric lights using cast-off trash like pop-can tabs and "dead" batteries. It's especially handy in the Himalayas, writes inventor and Google Science Fair judge T.H. Culhane. There, electricity is a precious resource. But the components needed to build a Joule Thief are abundant, thanks to climbers and tourists who leave behind all sorts of surprisingly useful litter.

Last week, Culhane joined a G+ hangout sponsored by National Geographic and Girlstart to talk about the value in things we throw away and walk viewers through the construction of their very own Joule Thief. You can watched the video of the event, or read the instructions for building a Joule Thief at Culhane's blog.

The fact that the Joule thief allows one to run a 3V LED from a 1.5 or 1.2 Volt battery would itself be astounding, because it means you only need half the number of batteries to get the same light.

Some of you are thinking "wait, maybe it enables you to use a single 1.5 volt battery to light a 3V LED instead of the usual two, but doesn't it just make that battery last half as long? Great question, but the answer is that the Joule Thief, which works by building up and collapsing a magnetic field around the torus (which acts as an electromagnetic inductor) actually is more efficient than using a battery directly because it PULSES the energy to the LED.

Read the rest

Amazing Insects - a short video featuring cute insects made from random junk, set to weird synth music

Steve Belfer made this short video featuring cute insects made from random junk, set to weird synth music.

The effects of space travel on the human body (past and present)

A 1956 video about the then-still-theoretical physiology of space travel ... with a special appearance by Chuck Yeager!

"Shot-for-Shot" Prisoner intro remake

and Do Not Foresake Me Oh My Darling made this amazing "shot-for-shot" remake of the Prisoner's opening. It is astonishing!

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