DRM-free label for all your DRM-free stuff

Kxra sez, "Defective by Design, the Free Software Foundation's campaign against DRM has just released a new graphic to mark DRM-free works on the web. The DRM-free label quickly communicates the DRM-free status of files, increases in value as more distributors adopt the label, and adds value to being DRM-free by linking to an informational page about DRM. The logo is already in use by O'Reilly, Momentum, the Pragmatic Bookshelf, and Magnatune. It is available in a few different styles with source files under CC-BY-SA 3.0."

New and improved label for DRM-free files (Thanks, Kxra!)

Skull wedding cake


Baker Anna at Eat Your Heart Out Bakers made this astounding skull wedding-cake.

Food artist Annabel de Vetten, also known as Conjurer’s Kitchen, created this incredible skull wedding cake for the Eclectic Wedding Extravaganza in Birmingham this weekend. Her theme being ” ‘Til Death Do Us Part”.

It features solid chocolate skulls of 16 carrion crows, 12 domestic kittens, 3 Vervet monkeys, and 4 barn owls, all of which the artist sculpted by hand. Made from White Chocolate Mudcake, the cake took her over 100 hours to complete in total. There are two options of toppers: a chocolate conjoined kitten skull, or dried flowers from an actual wedding bouquet (ones shown here from her own).

The Ultimate Skull Wedding Cake (Thanks, Emma!)

How to fix the worst law in technology

Tim Wu's New Yorker piece on Aaron Swartz and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act explains how Obama could, with one speech, fix the worst problem with the worst law in technology. The CFAA makes it a felony to "exceed your authorization" on a computer system, and fed prosecutors have taken the view that this means that if you violate terms of service, you're a felon, and they can put you in jail. As Wu points out, Obama doesn't need Congress to pass a law to fix this, he could just tell the DoJ that they should stop doing this. There's plenty of precedent, and it would be excellent policy.

When judges or academics say that it is wrong to interpret a law in such a way that everyone is a felon, the Justice Department has usually replied by saying, roughly, that federal prosecutors don’t bother with minor cases—they only go after the really bad guys. That has always been a lame excuse—repulsive to anyone who takes seriously the idea of a “a government of laws, not men.” After Aaron Swartz’s suicide, the era of trusting prosecutors with unlimited power in this area should officially be over...

There is a much more immediate and effective remedy: the Justice Department should announce a change in its criminal-enforcement policy. It should no longer consider terms-of-service violations to be criminal. It can join more than a dozen federal judges and scholars, like Kerr, who adopt a reasonable and more limited interpretation. The Obama Administration’s policy will have no effect on civil litigation, so firms like Oracle will retain their civil remedies. President Obama’s DREAM Act enforcement policy, under which the Administration does not deport certain illegal immigrants despite Congress’s inability to make the act a law, should be the model. Where Congress is unlikely to solve a problem, the Administration should take care of business itself.

All the Administration needs to do is to rely on the ancient common-law principle called the “rule of lenity.” This states that ambiguous criminal laws should be construed in favor of a defendant. As the Supreme Court puts it, “When choice has to be made between two readings of what conduct Congress has made a crime, it is appropriate, before we choose the harsher alternative, to require that Congress should have spoken in language that is clear and definite.” So far, at least thirteen federal judges have rejected the Justice Department’s interpretation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. If that’s not a sign that the law is unclear and should be interpreted with lenity, I don’t know what is.

Fixing the Worst Law in Technology

GoPro sends fraudulent DMCA notice to site that ran a negative review of its products


GoPro, manufacturers of small digital video cameras, sent a Digital Millennium Copyright Notice to a site called DigitalRev, which had compared GoPro's latest camera to Sony's rival Action Video Camera, and concluded that the Sony camera was much better. When GoPro was called on its censorship, the company said,

The letter that was posted next to the review on DigitalRev was not sent in response to the review. Obviously, we welcome editorial reviews of our products. This letter was sent because DigitalRev is not an authorized reseller of GoPro products and they were using images and had incorrect branding and representation of our product in their online commerce store. As part of our program – we ask merchants who are selling our product to use authorized images. That is why DigitalRev was contacted. But – our letter did not clearly communicate this and that is something we will correct.

However, the DMCA cannot be used to remove alleged trademark violations. As the name implies, the DMCA concerns itself with copyright, not trademark (that's why it's the DMCA and not the DMTA), and it is nothing less than fraud to send a DMCA notice over an alleged trademark violation. In other words, GoPro violated the law, and then offered a lame-ass, weak-ola excuse for it. You don't need a trademark holder's permission to use its marks in a review, nor do you need to be an authorized reseller to review products.

As GoPro surely knows.

As a reminder, apparently Sony's Action Video Camera kicks the GoPro camera's ass.

GoPro Uses DMCA to Take Down Article Comparing Its Camera with Rival (Thanks, Paul!)

Why did Lee Baca win Sheriff of the Year award?

The National Sheriffs’ Association (NSA) awarded LA County Sheriff Lee Baca "Sheriff of the Year."

What does it take to win Sheriff of the Year?

1,480 wrongful incarcerations? The LA Times reported that "hundreds of people have been wrongly imprisoned inside the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department jails in recent years, with some spending weeks behind bars before authorities realized those arrested were mistaken for wanted criminals."

Widespread prison rape? Just Detention International reported that "Two years ago, it came to light that gangs of deputies were brutalizing jail inmates, using sexual assault and excessive force to instill a climate of terror. Sheriff Baca has repeatedly sought to duck responsibility for the crisis. Yet the Citizens’ Commission on Jail Violence placed the blame squarely on his shoulders, citing a 'failure of leadership.'"

Pervasive abuse of jail inmates? An ACLU report quotes Thomas Parker, a former FBI agent as saying "Of all the jails I have had the occasion to visit, tour, or conduct investigations within, domestically and internationally, I have never experienced any facility exhibiting the volume and repetitive patterns of violence, misfeasance, and malfeasance impacting the Los Angeles County Jail system..."

Why did he win? Your guess is as good as mine!

Coincidentally, Baca is a member of the NSA Board of Directors and serves on its Executive Committee.

Internet-of-Things answering machine from 1992, with marbles

Durrell Bishop's 1992 grad project for his design program at the Royal College of Art was a brilliantly conceived riff on the answering machine, making use of physical, legible interfaces that made a point of exposing the conceptual workings of the device to its users.

Durrell Bishop is a partner in Luckybite with Tom Hulbert, working on physical interfaces, product design and interactive media. Prior to this he was a senior interaction designer at IDEO Europe. He co-founded Itch, which won a D&AD Gold award for large-scale work on the Science Museum Welcome Wing, and he was a partner in Dancing Dog, working on camera-based interfaces to computer games.

Durrell Bishop’s Marble Answering Machine (via Timo Arnall)

Dominique Pruitt "He's Got It Bad" music video

Here's the wonderful Dominique Pruitt performing "He's Got It Bad."

Previously:

Dominique Pruitt "To Win Your Love" music video

Supercut of all the alternate endings to the Animaniacs theme

Here's TammieRD's compilation of all the alternate endings to the Animaniacs theme song, each better than the last. As I mentioned before the complete seasons 1-3 DVDs are a huge hit around our house. Really some of the best kids' (and grownups') TV of the last century.

Animaniacs alternate theme song lyrical endings (Thanks, Fipi Lele!)

Why user interfaces should be visible, seamful, and explicit

Timo Arnall from the design studio BERG has makes several great and provocative points in his essay "No to NoUI" -- a well-argued piece that opposes the idea of "interfaces that disappear" and "seamless computer interfaces," arguing that by hiding the working of computers from their users, designers make it harder for those users to figure out what the computers are really doing and to solve the problems that inevitably arise.

Interfaces are the dominant cultural form of our time. So much of contemporary culture takes place through interfaces and inside UI. Interfaces are part of cultural expression and participation, skeuomorphism is evidence that interfaces are more than chrome around content, and more than tools to solve problems. To declare interfaces ‘invisible’ is to deny them a cultural form or medium. Could we say ‘the best TV is no TV’, the ‘best typography is no typography’ or ‘the best buildings are no architecture’?

...We might be better off instead taking our language from typography, and for instance talk about legibility and readability without denying that typography can call attention to itself in beautiful and spectacular ways. Our goal should be to ‘place as much control as possible in the hands of the end-user by making interfaces evident’.

Of course the interfaces we design may become normalised in use, effectively invisible over time, but that will only happen if we design them to be legible, readable, understandable and to foreground culture over technology. To build trust and confidence in an interface in the first place, enough that it can comfortably recede into the background.

No to NoUI (via Dan Hon)

Jörg makes an Oreo-shooting pump-action crossbow

The latest from The Slingshot Channel: an Oreo Separation Pump Gun.

It's a basic human desire to destroy an OREO cookie with a pump action crossbow. Some men simply love neither cookie nor creme, so sometimes a man just needs to invent a badass crossbow to do the hard work of shooting the two from a powerful homemade weapon. Today, that man is meat lover and cookie-destroyer Jörg Sprave. Watch him operate the repeating 14-shot weapon he created that separates OREO cookies into very fine (but separated) crumbles.

(Thanks, Matthew!)

South London bridge loves Boing Boing

We you, too, South London! (Not that we condone this sort of thing).

(Image: I heart Boing Boing, a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial (2.0) image from delete08's photostream)

(Thanks, Luke!)

How chopsticks are made

Len says: "A post from Xeni about disposable chopsticks and deforestation reminded me of this video. It's from Japan's version of 'How it's Made.' It is hard to believe how much hands-on work goes into making them (wait 'til you get to the women at the pile). Astonishing. I've never been able to look at them the same since. Great machine sounds too. There are quite a few good episodes in there including #228 - sumi brush making and #156 - kendo armor."

Series "The Making". How will follow the product are made familiar with what kind of technology, we convey the relationship of science and technology and the origins of things. "Chopsticks" theme is. Came to be used generally late Edo period. The reason that there is no need to turn to use, clean and has spread. Raw material is spruce. Birch, willow, cedar, and bamboo is also used for the other. Many white part, spruce is also used in building materials, is suitable for disposable chopsticks. At this plant, three types of disposable chopsticks are made. Chopsticks common "Genroku" The first. Was devised around 1887 - '30, cut the four corners of the chopsticks to make it easier course, also contains a groove in the center for easy assignment. The "cut" Heaven is the second, etc. are used in high-end Japanese restaurant. Cut diagonally (heaven) the end of the hand, I have easy to use by cutting round the tip of a chopstick. "Rikyu" third. In a way that was invented by Sen no Rikyu, was commercialized in the late Meiji period. Land can be used as chopsticks chopsticks to carry both ends mouth heaven and earth have become thin, take heaven, is also used for the tea ceremony, kaiseki.

How It's Made

Previously:

Pickpocket uses chopsticks -- video

Modern chopsticks for the digitally imbecilic

Edible Bowls and Chopsticks from Hardtack

Chopsticks safety: you are NOT the walrus! Goo goo g'jooob!

EFF blasts plans to build DRM into HTML5

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has weighed in on the growing controversy over the proposal to build DRM into HTML5, the next version of the standard language for building Web pages and applications. Staff technologists Seth Schoen and Peter Eckersley have written a great essay explaining how this kind of work is totally incompatible with the mission of the W3C and how its proponents' insistence that this isn't really DRM are just hollow jokes:

The EME proposal suffers from many of these problems because it explicitly abdicates responsibilty on compatibility issues and let web sites require specific proprietary third-party software or even special hardware and particular operating systems (all referred to under the generic name "content decryption modules", or CDMs, and none of them specified by EME). EME's authors keep saying that what CDMs are, and do, and where they come from is totally outside of the scope of EME, and that EME itself can't be thought of as DRM because not all CDMs are DRM systems. Yet if the client can't prove it's running the particular proprietary thing the site demands, and hence doesn't have an approved CDM, it can't render the site's content. Perversely, this is exactly the reverse of the reason that the World Wide Web Consortium exists in the first place. W3C is there to create comprehensible, publicly-implementable standards that will guarantee interoperability, not to facilitate an explosion of new mutually-incompatible software and of sites and services that can only be accessed by particular devices or applications. But EME is a proposal to bring exactly that dysfunctional dynamic into HTML5, even risking a return to the "bad old days, before the Web" of deliberately limited interoperability.

Because it's clear that the open standards community is extremely suspicious of DRM and its interoperability consequences, the proposal from Google, Microsoft and Netflix claims that "[n]o 'DRM' is added to the HTML5 specification" by EME. This is like saying, "we're not vampires, but we are going to invite them into your house".

Proponents also seem to claim that EME is not itself a DRM scheme. But specification author Mark Watson admitted that "Certainly, our interest is in [use] cases that most people would call DRM" and that implementations would inherently require secrets outside the specification's scope. It's hard to maintain a pretense that EME is about anything but DRM.

Defend the Open Web: Keep DRM Out of W3C Standards (via /.)

See also:

* HTML5's overseer says DRM's true purpose is to prevent legal forms of innovation

* Why Tim Berners-Lee is wrong about DRM in HTML5

The other problem with fake vaccine scares

It's not just that bad information on the "dangers" of vaccines is working to reduce the number of children getting vaccines — a fact that affects herd immunity. Now, there's evidence that the fake scares (and efforts to debunk them) are getting in the way of scientists publishing real evidence about actual problems with certain vaccines. These aren't the kind of broad "vaccines are poison" claims you're familiar with. Instead, we're talking about legitimate science documenting side effects that are usually very rare, but still have an impact on certain subsets of the population and need to be addressed.

Danny Hillis: The Internet could crash. We need a Plan B

Carla enjoyed Danny Hillis' presentation at TED2013. Here's how he began the talk:

So, this book that I have in my hand is a directory of everybody who had an email address in 1982. (Laughter) Actually, it's deceptively large. There's actually only about 20 people on each page, because we have the name, address and telephone number of every single person. And, in fact, everybody's listed twice, because it's sorted once by name and once by email address. Obviously a very small community. There were only two other Dannys on the Internet then. I knew them both. We didn't all know each other, but we all kind of trusted each other, and that basic feeling of trust permeated the whole network, and there was a real sense that we could depend on each other to do things.

So just to give you an idea of the level of trust in this community, let me tell you what it was like to register a domain name in the early days. Now, it just so happened that I got to register the third domain name on the Internet. So I could have anything I wanted other than bbn.com and symbolics.com. So I picked think.com, but then I thought, you know, there's a lot of really interesting names out there. Maybe I should register a few extras just in case. And then I thought, "Nah, that wouldn't be very nice."

Danny Hillis: The Internet could crash. We need a Plan B