Casino cheats used house CCTVs to score $32M

A rich, high-stakes gambler was dragged out of his opulent comp suite at the Crown Towers casino in Melbourne, accused of participating in a $32M scam that made use of the casino's own CCTV cameras to cheat.

The Herald Sun understands remote access to the venue's security system was given to an unauthorised person.

Images relayed from cameras were then used to spy on a top-level gaming area where the high roller was playing.

Signals were given to him on how he should bet based on the advice of someone viewing the camera feeds. Sources said the total stolen was $32 million.

They are capable of transmitting the most intricate detail of goings-on inside the building.

Casinos were the world leaders in CCTV use, and really represent ground zero for the panopticon theory of security. What is rarely mentioned is that "security" measures can be turned against defenders if attackers can hijack them. This is as true when a mugger uses his victim's gun against him as it is when a casino's own CCTVs are used to defeat its own anti-cheating measures. This is the high-stakes gambling version of all those IP-based CCTVs that leak sensitive footage of the inside of peoples' houses onto the public Internet.

Crown casino hi-tech scam nets $32 million [Mark Buttler/Herald Sun]

(via /.)

Peter Murphy busted for DUI hit-and-run injury and meth possession

Peter Murphy, singer for Bauhaus, was arrested this weekend in Los Angeles for an alleged DUI hit-and-run that reportedly injured the other driver. A witness followed Murphy and blocked him until cops arrived. According to police, Murphy appeared to be "very confused." From the Glendale News Press:

NewImageMurphy denied drinking alcohol that day, adding that he had only taken his regular prescription pills for depression, according to police.

Murphy — who’s from England but lives in Turkey — reportedly admitted to being involved in a traffic collision, telling officers he was jet-lagged from a recent flight, police said.

Inside the Los Angeles police patrol car where Murphy had been detained, officers reported finding a small plastic bag, possibly of methamphetamine, police said. Murphy denied the bag belonged to him, but officers said they believed he was trying to discard it in the patrol car.

"Peter Murphy arrested for alleged DUI hit-and-run in Glendale" (Thanks, Dave Gill!)

Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom read-aloud part 01

As I mentioned in my March Locus column, I'm celebrating the tenth anniversary of Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom by planning a prequel volume. As part of that planning, I'm going to read aloud the entire text of that first book into my podcast, making notes on the book as I go. Here's part one.

Mastering by John Taylor Williams: wryneckstudio@gmail.com

John Taylor Williams is a audiovisual and multimedia producer based in Washington, DC and the co-host of the Living Proof Brew Cast. Hear him wax poetic over a pint or two of beer by visiting livingproofbrewcast.com. In his free time he makes "Beer Jewelry" and "Odd Musical Furniture." He often "meditates while reading cookbooks."

MP3 link

Podcast subscription link (RSS/XML)

Copyright shouldn't take away real property rights

iFixit's Kyle Wiens has a must-read op-ed in Wired on the insane way that copyright is being used to take away your property rights in tools as diverse as tractors and cars and cellphones and phone switches. The manufacturers use a variety of copyright claims (especially anti-circumvention claims under the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act/DMCA) to make it illegal to understand how your stuff works, to improve on it, or to repair it. Wiens makes the good point that it's nuts to use metaphorical property (copyright) to end real property rights in things that you buy and pay for.

Meanwhile, progress is being made to legalize cellphone unlocking. With grassroots groups leading the charge, the Obama administration announced its support for overturning the ban last week. Since then, members of Congress have authored no fewer than four bills to legalize unlocking.

This is a step in the right direction, but it’s not enough. Let’s make one thing clear: Fixing our cars, tractors, and cellphones should have nothing to do with copyright.

As long as Congress focuses on just unlocking cellphones, they’re missing the larger point. Senators could pass a hundred unlocking bills; five years from now large companies will find some other copyright claim to limit consumer choice. To really solve the problem, Congress must enact meaningful copyright reform. The potential economic benefits are significant, as free information creates jobs. Service information is freely available online for many smartphones from iFixit (my organization) and other websites. Not coincidentally, thousands of cellphone repair businesses have sprung up in recent years, using the repair knowledge to keep broken cellphones out of landfills.

As long as we’re limited in our ability to modify and repair things, copyright — for all objects — will discourage creativity. It will cost us money. It will cost us jobs. And it’s already costing us our freedom.

Forget the Cellphone Fight — We Should Be Allowed to Unlock Everything We Own (via /.)

Machines that do nothing but switch themselves off

Useless machines are home-built devices that turn themselves off as soon as you turn them on — and that's it. That's all the they do. The more elaborate and gimmicky the method by which they accomplish this job, the better. As a hobby, useless machines have been around since the 1950s, but Abigail Pesta of the Wall Street Journal says they're making a comeback.

Literature's business model explained, with special reference to the age of the Internet


Richard Nash's essay "On the business of literature" is one of the best, most thought-provoking, most beautifully argued articles about the business of publishing through history and in the Internet age that I've ever read. It's one of those pieces from which it is nearly impossible to choose an illustrative quotation -- as I read, I kept happening on passages and thinking, "Aha, that's what I'll put in the post so people will know how interesting and important this is," only to find another passage a few minutes later that superseded the former one. So here's one quote to whet your appetite, and I'll stick another after the jump, but for heaven's sake, just go read the whole thing. Really.

What is particularly crucial to understand is that books were not dragged kicking and screaming into each new area of capitalism. Books not only are part and parcel of consumer capitalism, they virtually began it. They are part of the fuel that drives it. The growth of the chain model in books offered everyone the opportunity to decry the groceryfication of the bookstore, utterly belying the reality, as Striphas outlines in his excellent The Late Age of Print, that the bookstore is in fact the model for the supermarket:

In the history of shop design, it is bookstores, strangely enough, that were the precursors of supermarkets. They, alone of all types of shop, made use of shelves that were not behind counters, with the goods arranged for casual browsing, and for what was not yet called self-service. Also, when brand name goods and their accompanying packages were non-existent or rare in the sale of food, books had covers that were designed at once to protect the contents and to entice the purchaser; they were proprietary products with identifiable authors and new titles.

There are other examples of significant innovation being driven by the publishers—Penguin founder Allen Lane's 1937 paperback vending machine for better commuter distribution being among the most charming—but the point is that books aren't sitting grumpily in economy class on the airplane to the future. They're in the cockpit.

Nash founded the amazing Soft Skull Press, which had many triumphs, not least publishing the amazing Get Your War On books.

VQR » On the business of literature

Read the rest

Instant gold

Under the right conditions, veins of gold can form in just a few tenths of a second, writes Richard Lovett at Nature News. The key is the massive changes in below-ground pressure that can accompany an earthquake. Under the right conditions, water vaporizes, leaving behind crystallized minerals.

Cancer as a contagious disease

In 2011, Hugo Chavez alleged that he was the victim of an assassination plot ... that unnamed US agents had infected him with a transmissible cancer. Scientifically speaking, that's highly unlikely. But what's interesting is that the idea of contagious cancer isn't totally outside the realm of reality. Transmissible cancers do exist, just not in any primate species. At Scientific American, Marissa Fessenden interviews a geneticist about the contagious cancers that affect dogs and Tasmanian devils.

Space station cake from EVE Online


This amazing EVE Online Gallente Space Station cake was created by Duff Goldma of Charm City Cakes in Baltimore, MD. It's unquestionably the greatest MMORPG space-station cake I've ever seen.

Dock Your Fork in This Gallente Space Station Cake

Interview with Joel, Veronica, and Greg of Gizmodo's Gadget Testers

Earlier today Rob mentioned Gizmodo: The Gadget Testers, a TV pilot that airs tonight at 10:20/9:20c on BBC America. It stars our pals Joel Johnson and Veronica Belmont. I interviewed Veronica, Joel, and co-host Greg Foot today about some of their funny experiences making the pilot.

Free downloadable magic/automata books from Robert Houdin's private club

Dug North sez, "The book titled 'Two Odd Volumes on Magic & Automata; has been available in a printed version for a while, but is now available as a PDF. The book is offered for free from LEAFpdx, but I am sure donations would be welcome."

The Sette of Odd Volumes published two fantastic books in the early 1890s. The Sette was a club of book collectors and eccentric personalities in London. It was founded by the famed book dealer Bernard Quaritch in 1878. He collected members for his club much like he did rare editons: each had an expertise in some unusual specialty.

William Manning was a club member who gave an after dinner talk on his recollections of the great magician Robert-Houdin. When Manning was a young boy he met the great magician and befriended Robert-Houdin's sons. His 'recollections' about Robert-Houdin were later published as a small book. Reading it today, over a hundred years after the speech was originally given, one is still struck by how forward thinking Robert-Houdin was and how down to earth. He developed many famous magic acts that are still performed today. Originally trained as a clockmaker, Robert-Houdin built all his own automata and magic props. He experimented with electricity and even wired his house with clocks and alarms in the 1860s which must have seemed very magical indeed. Manning captures the spirit of his admired friend. His words make the magician seem very contemporary and even more remarkable.

Two Odd Volumes on Magic & Automata (Thanks, Dug!)

Just look at this banana sculpture.


Just look at it.

fruit - Matt James Stone (Thanks, Marie!)

Growing up in the future

When Veronique Greenwood went to college in 2004, she took a laptop with her ... and a videophone. In an engaging essay at Aeon Magazine, Greenwood writes about what it was like to grow up with a Futurist for a mom, particularly a futurist who, in retrospect, seemed to be more interested in premature technologies than in the sleek, widely adopted versions that eventually succeeded in the marketplace. Greenwood's mother loved the videophone. When Skype came along, free of dedicated hardware, she lost interest.

Django Django video for "WOR"

We featured Django Django's first single over a year ago. The record came out in the U.S. in October and is still going strong.  "WOR"  is their 7th video from their self-titled debut, and is a mesmerizing peek into the lives of daredevils drivers at a fair in Allahabad.

Go see the band live - they're fun, charming,extremely talented and have the biggest tambourine you've ever seen. I highly recommend it - tour dates here.

Yogurt for manly men


A company called "Powerful Yogurt" has shipped a line of "brogurt" -- single-serving bacteria cultures that are meant to appeal to manly men who are put off by the femininity of traditional yogurt packaging. Comedian Jessi Klein said of the product on an episode of NPR's Wait, Wait... Don't Tell Me, "If male yogurt marketing is anywhere near as annoying as female yogurt marketing, you are in for a treat. Every female yogurt commercial is basically like women in a wedding dress just petting a kitten and eating yogurt."

Now NPR has a full review:

Peter: I liked the fact there was no lid. You had to smash it on your forehead to get to it.

Ian: I guess this is pretty manly, but not as manly as that Dannon flavor you have to hunt and kill with your bare hands.

Mike: This is good. Like, this is "morning after a night in a Tijuana brothel and I still have both my kidneys" good.

Brogurt doesn't taste so different than regular yogurt. We were sort of hoping for manly flavors, like "Truck" or "Mixed Berry Martial Arts."

Miles: I could really go for some "Essence of Burt Reynolds."

Mike: I like that yogurt flavor titles do not appear on bill.

Yogurt For Men: A Review [Ian Chillag/NPR]