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Katie Fisher Day: bake cookies and send them to a friend

Remember Katie Fisher? She was the 24 year old who was killed crossing the street by a driver who ran a red light, only to have Progressive Insurance -- her own insurance company -- pay to defend her killer in court, and then lie about it. Her brother, comedian Matt Fisher, has decided to honor her memory with Katie Fisher Day, a day when people bake cookies and send them to their friends (Katie sent Matt a batch of cookies every week while he was at university).

Step 1: Pick someone you love. It can be your mom, your brother, your friend, some guy at work. Anyone you’d like to feel a little more loved.

Step 2: Bake them cookies. Any kind will do! Chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin. Are you a crappy baker? Send them crappy cookies. Or buy some. It’s the thought that counts. We’ll post recipes here on the site. Post yours if you have a good one!

Step 3: Send those cookies. Mail them. Drop them off in person. Whatever’s easier. Just make sure you send them! The goal is to send them on March 12 or have them get to your person by March 12, but look, if you send someone cookies on another day, we’re cool with that.

Step 4: There is no Step 4. This is a simple thing. Let’s not overcomplicate it. Though we would love it if you told us about your special someone, sent photos of your cookies and/or sent us a recipe.

Katie Fisher Day (Thanks, Matt!)

Principles for 21st century living


A list of principles for the 21st century, from Joi Ito, presently running the MIT Media Lab:

Ito: There are nine or so principles to work in a world like this:

1. Resilience instead of strength, which means you want to yield and allow failure and you bounce back instead of trying to resist failure.

2. You pull instead of push. That means you pull the resources from the network as you need them, as opposed to centrally stocking them and controlling them.

3. You want to take risk instead of focusing on safety.

4. You want to focus on the system instead of objects.

5. You want to have good compasses not maps.

6. You want to work on practice instead of theory. Because sometimes you don’t why it works, but what is important is that it is working, not that you have some theory around it.

7. It disobedience instead of compliance. You don’t get a Nobel Prize for doing what you are told. Too much of school is about obedience, we should really be celebrating disobedience.

8. It’s the crowd instead of experts.

9. It’s a focus on learning instead of education.

We’re still working on it, but that is where our thinking is headed.

Joi Ito of MIT Media Lab

Hacking the Xbox, free in honor of Aaron Swartz


Bunnie Huang's seminal book "Hacking the Xbox" is now a free PDF, released thus by the author in honor of Aaron Swartz. "Hacking the Xbox" is the "Our Bodies, Our Selves" of reverse engineering -- a brilliant and accessible text setting out the case for and the practicalities of reverse engineering and taking control of your devices.

I agreed to release this book for free in part because Aaron’s treatment by MIT is not unfamiliar to me. In this book, you will find the story of when I was an MIT graduate student, extracting security keys from the original Microsoft Xbox. You’ll also read about the crushing disappointment of receiving a letter from MIT legal repudiating any association with my work, effectively leaving me on my own to face Microsoft.

The difference was that the faculty of my lab, the AI laboratory, were outraged by this treatment. They openly defied MIT legal and vowed to publish my work as an official “AI Lab Memo,” thereby granting me greater negotiating leverage with Microsoft. Microsoft, mindful of the potential backlash from the court of public opinion over suing a legitimate academic researcher, came to a civil understanding with me over the issue.

It saddens me that America’s so-called government for the people, by the people, and of the people has less compassion and enlightenment toward their fellow man than a corporation. Having been a party to subsequent legal bullying by other entities, I am all too familiar with how ugly and gut-wrenching a high-stakes lawsuit can be. Fortunately, the stakes in my cases were not as high, nor were my adversaries as formidable as Aaron’s, or I too might have succumbed to hopelessness and fear. A few years ago, I started rebuilding my life overseas, and I find a quantum of solace in the thought that my residence abroad makes it a little more difficult to be served.

While the US legal system strives for justice, the rules of the system create an asymmetric war that favors those with resources. By and far one of the most effective methods to force a conclusion, right or wrong, against a small player is to simply bleed them of resources and the will to fight through pre-trial antics. Your entire life feels like it is under an electron microscope, with every tiny blemish magnified into a pitched battle of motions, countermotions, discovery, subpoenas, and affidavits, and each action heaping tens of thousands of dollars onto your legal bill. Your friends, co-workers, employers, and family are drawn into this circus of humiliation as witnesses. Worse, you’re counseled not to speak candidly to anyone, lest they be summoned as a witness against you. Isolated and afraid, it eventually makes more sense to roll over and settle than to take the risk of losing on a technicality versus a better-funded adversary, regardless of the justice.

An open letter from bunnie, author of Hacking the Xbox

Things, organized neatly: a kentucky site for knollers


Things Organized Neatly is a Tumblr devoted to excellent knolling photos in which things are, well, organized neatly. Zomg, but this tickles something vulnerable in my hindbrain. Show here: a RepRap (in bits), and Cannoli in Buenos Aires.

Things Organized Neatly (Thanks, Fipi Lele!)

Trauma shears: Inexpensive plastic and sheet metal cutter

Several years ago I needed about half a dozen tools for a series of workshops I was hosting. I needed a hand tool that could safely and easily shape plastic and thin sheet metal, but not break the bank. I found trauma shears at the local hardware store for a couple dollars each and bought every pair they had. Although I had misgivings about the price they worked great. I still have them and they all get constant use and abuse.

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Numbers stations on Twitter and other spook-y tweets

Ken Layne takes us on a tour of weird, possibly espionage-related Twitter accounts, from a "numbers station" that has tweeted 318,000 hexadecimal numbers since 2009 (possibly from Khabarovsk), to a "joke" CIA account that seems to have a lot of inside dope, to a massive cluster of accounts that tweet nothing but "Iowa City schools ask state for an audit," over and over again.

Here are some of the 38 followers of an inscrutable account called @googuns_staging—many of these are obvious fraudulent accounts with randomly generated profiles such as, "I like Jonathan Richman/The Modern Lovers to listen and Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, The to watch. I'm brave and chivalrous." Well, of course you are!

GooGuns posts nothing but strings of letters and numbers, like b39e65fa00000000 in intervals of about five minutes on average. The string of characters always ends with zeroes, occasionally with the location service turned on, so you can see that 554705fa00000000 was allegedly tweeted from the "Region of Khabarovsk." This has been going on all day and all night, for years, with more than 318,000 tweets posted since 2009. But why?

There is an iOS game called GooGun with its own website and a dubious iTunes graphic with the words "No Longer Available" over it. "Space robots are attacking," says the promotional video showing game play on this game that is not available to play.

The Real Weird Twitter Is Espionage Twitter [Ken Layne/The Awl] (via Wil Wheaton)

Video of flame-shooting giant robotic octopus


Gawain Lavers shot this short video of El Pulpo Mecanico at Pier 15 in San Francisco. It was part of the festivities to celebrate the grand re-opening of The Exploratorium.

New Brazilian environmental political party based on social networking

Gmoke sez, "Former Brazilian Environment Minister Marina Silva and recent Green Party Presidential candidate (she came in third to force a run-off election) launched the Sustainability Network in Brasilia on 16 February, 2013 and seeks to collect the required 500,000 signatures by September 2013 to become a legally recognized political party. From Sustainability Network's political manifesto (PDF):

We believe that networks, as a means for meeting and organising, are an invention of the present that bridge to a better future. Therefore, it is through networking with society that we want to build a new political force, with alliances underpinned by an Ethics of Urgency, aiming to construct a new model of development: sustainable, inclusive, egalitarian and diverse.

Former Brazilian Minister’s New Party Mixes Sustainability, Social Media · Global Voices (Thanks, Gmoke!)

(Image: José Cruz/Agencia Brasil (CC BY 3.0))

BoomCase suitcase speakers/amp

NewImage

BoomCase transforms classic old luggage (and lunch boxes) into one-of-a-kind, er, artisanal amps/speakers that run on batteries and accept any audio input. The BoomCase (Thanks, Patrick!)

Starry night: skies over New Zealand

Photo: Ngauruhoe Rise, a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial (2.0) image from astronomr (aka Jason Brown)'s photostream, shared in the Boing Boing Flickr Pool. Another beautiful shot, showing trails as the stars move across the sky, is here. Photographer Jason Brown has a blog with more wonderful astronomy photos, and says,

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Biggest threat in the Pacific, according to top U.S. Admiral? Climate Change.

Adm. Samuel J. Locklear III, "no smelly hippie," according to Wired News, believes the consequences of a warming planet are likely to “cripple the security environment, probably more likely than the other scenarios we all often talk about.” According to Danger Room, he said, “You have the real potential here in the not-too-distant future of nations displaced by rising sea level. Certainly weather patterns are more severe than they have been in the past. We are on super typhoon 27 or 28 this year in the Western Pacific. The average is about 17.” [Danger Room | Wired.com] Xeni

YouTube co-founder develops possible rival; thinks Denny's is nice place to have breakfast

Adweek reports that YouTube co-founder Chad Hurley is working on some kind of collaborative video startup, possibly to rival YouTube, sort of. He left the company in 2010; since then, the company has changed much under Google's ownership.

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Bedouin "solar mamas" can't get backing for solarizing their village in Jordan

Gmoke sez, "Two years ago, two Bedouin women, Rafea Al Raja and her aunt Seiha Al Raja (Um Bader), returned from a six-month solar engineering training at the Barefoot College in India as 'solar engineers' to start a training center for other women. Although they solarized 80 houses in their village, the government of Jordan, NGOs and international organizations have shown little or no interest in their work. Even with a documentary on their training and projects at home, 'Solar Mamas', there hasn't been enough funding to sustain their work and their dreams.

“We are still not working and the training has not started either,” Rafea told The Jordan Times in an interview on Saturday.

They came with hope, she said, but this hope is fading away. The government, NGOs and international organisations are showing little or no interest, according to FES officials, leaving the project stranded in the desert.

“Now even our fellow villagers have started to make fun of us because they see nothing is happening on the ground,” said Rafea, who with her aunt were received with festive firing and an “official” ceremony upon their arrival from India.

The situation took a dramatic turn for both Rafea and Um Bader. Although they provided solar energy to 80 houses in the village, they are now facing the darkness of personal problems that have plighted them since they completed their training in India.

Hopes fade for two bedouin ‘solar engineers’ [Gaelle Sundelin/Jordan Times]

(Thanks, Gmoke)

Bloombergian ban on large sodas in NYC blocked by judge with awesome name

A state judge has blocked New York City's ban on large soft drinks in restaurants, movie theaters and other establishments. Calling New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's ban "arbitrary and capricious," the judge banned the ban one day before it was to take effect. But, the buried lede? The judge's name. Meet Supreme Court Justice Milton Tingling, folks. [Reuters, via @normative] Xeni

David Carr's "Geeks Telling Jokes"

New York Times media columnist David Carr invited some "media geeks" to tell jokes, for a video played during Carr's talk at SXSW yesterday. I have a very brief cameo, at the end. Before you hurl tomatoes, remember: none of us have plans to quit our day jobs. Also, The Aristocrats.

About the silly project, below:

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