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Rob Beschizza

Rob Beschizza is the Managing Editor of Boing Boing. He's @beschizza on Twitter and can be found on Facebook too. Try your luck at besc...@gmail.com  

Net Neutrality wins

neut

In a 3 to 2 party-line vote, the FCC decided today that broadband internet access will be classified as a "telecommunications service under Title II," a utility like telephone service.

The ruling enshrines major aspects of net neutrality, the principle that favors an "open internet" and which limits what service providers can do to control access to it.

The new rules specifically prohibit blocking legal traffic, intentionally degrading the service quality given to particular sites, services or devices, and paid prioritization, whereby partners pay for access to "fast lanes." FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler and Democratic commissioners Mignon Clyburn and Jessica Rosenworcel each favored the rules. Republicans Michael O’Reilly and Ajit Pai voted against them.

Though the internet has remained largely "neutral" since its inception, service providers have long wanted to discriminate between different users, devices and types of data, to charge data-gobbling websites for access to their customers, and to play favorites with affiliated services and sites.

The ruling will be challenged vigorously by the service providers, business groups, and Republicans in congress.

An earlier FCC compromise was torn up after cable companies challenged the agency's power to regulate the web. Though they won in court, this strategy led the FCC to rule more directly on the internet's role as a communications utility.

During a four-month consultation period, a little-liked FCC plan to regulate neutrality issues on a "a case-by-case basis" ultimately gave way to more comprehensive protections for the open 'net.

A satirical, scathing segment produced by HBO's John Oliver became a popular turning point, racking up more than 8 million views and highlighting the consequences of ignoring Net Neutrality's highly technical and "boring" subject matter.

As the debate became more public and fractious, AT&T said it had suspended infrastructure investment until the neutrality proposals were decided, while the White House signaled support, and billionaire Marc Cuban issued perfectly-timed orations valorizing Ayn Rand and America's most hated corporations.

Now service providers must face the outcome they sought to avoid--an open internet protected by telecommunications utility rules.

Last day to badger FCC over Net Neutrality: do it! Do it now!

The New York Times reports that the FCC will likely go ahead and treat the Internet as a utility, but don't let them off the hook just yet. Click "Save Net Neutrality" below and tell them what you think.

Google bans "graphic nudity" from hosted blogs, will decide if your art is porn

Google is to ban pornography and "graphic nudity" at Blogger, the publishing platform that used to host Boing Boing before we got our own servers.

Google said those Blogger sites that continue to host pornography after March 23 will be made "private." That means the content will be allowed to remain up, but it will only be accessible to the site's owner and the people who the user directly shared the blog with.

Google noted that it isn't completely banning nudity from being shown publicly on Blogger. The site will allow nudity "if the content offers a substantial public benefit, for example in artistic, educational, documentary, or scientific contexts." But it also puts Google in the position of deciding what is art and what is pornography -- a decision that Instagram and other sites have struggled with.

It's not news to say that the internet has mostly disappeared into serious culture's well-stretched arsehole, but it's always useful to remember that the googly eye now peering out from it is Eric Schmidt's.

Adult content policy on Blogger [Blogger]

Help me pick a dumbphone

dumbphone

My anti-boredom lightbox has become a psychic vampire. So I'm going back to a plain "feature" phone for a while, just to see what life is like outside of cyberspace. Help me pick the right one!

Now, there are a few approaches to the peak of dumbphone mountain.

1. Get a functional, no-nonsense model that does what I need—calls, text messages, battery life—and accept that to allow myself more than this is to bargain my way back to fun smartphone things.

2. Get a high-quality feature phone that limits me to more practical matters, but is sufficiently well-designed and made that I like using it within those limitations.

3: Dumb down my smartphone. This is what I'm doing now: it means removing attention-treadmill apps and disabling Mobile Safari using the "restrictions" menu option. It feels weird, but works. A pro is being able to put it to use as a simplifier (GPS, video, etc) when required; a con is paying for all that unused data.

Bear in mind that even the very dumbest dumbphones have a lot of the smartphone attention-machine things baked in anyway—especially social networking. So I'd like to avoid qwerty keyboards, too, imposing an extra level of friction and difficulty to engage beyond basic texting.

motof3 Now, I used to have a Moto F3, an e-ink candybar model that, at first blush, seems perfect: small, durable, good battery life, no apps, totally minimalist. But it has a critical flaw: only 6 characters per line on a two-line display. It's a fetish item, and barely usable for people who want to make frequent calls or write text messages. They're also getting rare and expensive.

Nokia-515-new-colour-hero

At the other end of the spectrum, there's this Nokia (or, rather, Microsoft) 515, which remains the ne plus ultra of practical feature phones. It has gorilla glass and nice metal casing and I would totally fall in love with it. But it's expensive and has a full complement of attention-vampire apps. It seems vaguely like the feature phone equivalent of a set of leatherbound Britannicas, if you catch my drift.

nokia301 Nokia's 301 is made with plainer materials and more reasonably priced, but otherwise has the same "premium" dumbphone setup. This is my top candidate, but for...

The Nokia 105/106, cheap and low-end but with amazing battery life--days of talk time, claimed, and up to a month on standby. It's still quite good-looking, too, unlike the general chintz of other sub-$30 options. This looks like a great way to meet the needs of option 1. (The newer Microsoft-era "Asha" models, and the 200 series, all seem to have touchscreens or QWERTY keyboards. The 220 comes in a nicely toxic lime green, though, so there's that.)

Samsung has about 400 million different models, similar to these Nokias, but they look relatively flimsy. They're extremely cheap, though. How do they perform?

Screen Shot 2015-02-23 at 11.59.28 AMHas anyone tried a Blu feature phone? They're inexpensive, and look a bit sturdier than the bargain-bin models from LG and Samsung.

Ebay is full of various credit card-sized models from generic manufacturers. The very sight of these releases serotonin into my Moto F3 receptors. Is is possible that they aren't completely terrible? Has anyone here had any experience with them? Here is one on Amazon posed with a bottle of Baileys to show you how classy it is.

41utMdr-oXL

This "gold" one resembles a 40 year-old remote control and is called "Jump and Fish."

jumpandfish

(Update: Reader Fuzzyfungus points out that these are derivatives of the $12 "Gonkai" Phone.)

Finally, there are also rugged models from Casio and Cat to consider; the Cat B100, below, is waterproof and generally looks the most uncompromising of the set: an immortal slab of metal for people who will never want anything else. The photo is from Engadget, where Brian Heater gives it a positive write-up.

catphonesmall01

TELL ME WHAT TO BUY.

Audiophile Micro SD Card

premiumsound

If you've been telling yourself that Sony's $1200 Walkman is actually a highly-polished, premium product—say, the audio equivalent of a professional DSLR camera—know that it is also making a $155 SD card to use with it for "premium sound." Consider yourself informed what sort of person Sony thinks you are, if you are thinking of buying that Walkman. [via @chrisheinonen]

Lenovo pre-installed malware on laptops

PC maker Lenovo reportedly sold laptops preinstalled with Superfish, a hidden malware package that injects advertising into browser sessions: "it can basically intercept everything and it could be really misused."

Net neutrality jumbotron to be parked outside FCC: get your message on it!

IMG_20150219_080958

Net neutrality advocates StopTheSlowDown want your messages to put on a jumbotron outside the FCC, which will issue a historic ruling on February 26 concerning how the internet works.

This is urgent: Telecom lobbyists are swarming Washington to insert legal loopholes so they can slow your favorite websites to a crawl. With so many websites based in the U.S., the future of the entire Internet itself is at stake. We’re parking an “Internet Voice” JUMBOTRON right in front of the FCC to make sure your voice is heard. Add your message now and we’ll make sure they see it

stoptheslowdown.net

Improved design for Delta Airlines "Disposal Bag"

delta-bag Drink to remember.

Gif of a floating dog

Here is a Gif of a floating dog. doggif

Downton Abbey fan art

dowager A special feature at Deviant Art collecting the very best Downtown Abbey fan art. Yes, there is plenty of dowager.

Fighting games before Street Fighter II were mostly awful

Hardcore Gaming 101's collection of pre-1991 titles has a few good standouts, but it's remarkable just how bad the failure ratio was for the genre.

Canada upholds net neutrality rules

From Michael Geist: "Canada's telecom regulator has issued a major new…ruling that Bell and Videotron violated the Telecommunications Act by granting their own wireless television services an undue preference by exempting them from data charges."

FCC to hotels: WiFi blocking is prohibited

Megan Geuss: "Persons or businesses causing intentional interference to Wi-Fi hotspots are subject to enforcement action. Previously.

Journalists! Activists! Nominate your worst FOIA horror stories

Dave Maass at the Electronic Frontier Foundation wants to experience bureaucratic obfuscation and evasion—vicariously, though you.

This year, EFF is setting out to recognize the most outrageous responses to Freedom of Information Act and state open records act requests. We are calling it The Foilies and we need journalists, citizen nominations for these dubious honors.

Send your nominations to foilies at eff.org by Feb. 20, 2015. Recipients of these dubious awards will be announced during Sunshine Week in March.

Musician posts call transcript after Google says her claims are 'patently false'

Zoe Keating reported the awful contract terms Google is trying to impose on its musicians; Google says her claims are 'patently false'. She fires back with transcripts of her interactions with its staff.

Several journalists have contacted me to say that a Google PR rep told them my claims were “patently false”. “Patently” means clear and without doubt. Either someone is not telling the truth or the very nice rep I have been negotiating with, for a year, is patently unclear. There seems to be very little clarity and a lot of doubt on this topic.

I still haven’t decided what to do (YouTube is not at the top of my priority list right now) but I don’t want to spread false information and I hope my transcript below will provide some clarity. Please, tell me what you think it means.

...

Zoe: Wow that’s pretty harsh.

Google rep: Yeah, it’s harsh and trust me, it is really difficult for me to have this conversation with all of my partners but we’re really, what we’re trying to do is basically create a new revenue stream on top of what exists on the platform today.

UPDATE: A YouTube spokesperson got in touch to say that any artist who agrees to their basic Terms of Service will always be able to share videos on YouTube, and that the music service contract will not prohibit them from providing exclusives and goodies to fans on other services.

Online anti-harassment task force launched

Zoe Quinn, a game developer frequently targeted by Gamergate and other internet trolls, launched Crash Override, an anti-harassment site that will help victims get in touch with law enforcement, legal/threat monitoring and counseling services. Quinn and Lifschitz, who are currently funding the initiative themselves, hope that Crash Override will fill an important gap for people targeted by online abuse. As Quinn knows first-hand, it’s often difficult to find good advice about how to protect yourself from online harassment or know where to turn, especially when the responses from both Internet platforms and law enforcement tend to be either inadequate or nonexistent.

Play Zork on Twitter

Play classic adventure game Zork simply by tweeting at @zorkplay, by Tom Printy and John Biggs. You'll need patience and a map... zork-1-map

Cuban cigar ban over

BBC: New travel and trade rules between the US and Cuba are to take effect on Friday, US officials say.

Marriot backs down on WiFi blocking

Glenn Fleishman: "They haven't withdrawn the petition, but they have backed way off publicly and in a follow-up FCC comment on their petition."

No Action Figures Please

This is a dramatic reading of "a memo sent from Scott Dadich to all WIRED employees in San Francisco, obtained by The Awl."
We all treasure our photos of loved ones. Mementos of personal accomplishment. I encourage you to proudly display a few small items at your desk because our workspace reflects who we are. It reflects our values. But how we treat our workplace is a manifestation of how seriously we take our work. When we stop caring for our shared spaces, we demonstrate a lack of respect for the space and for each other. When you leave stains on countertops, it’s disgusting for your colleagues and embarrassing for visitors.

How housewives configured with PERCEPTION ANALYZERS decide what music gets on the radio

Medium reposts Wired's 2008 article about the numbing levels of technical polish used to optimize pop music recordings.

Read the rest

Takedown archive Chilling Effects removes self from search engines

At copyright holders' behest, reports TorrentFreak: "strange coming from an organization that was founded to offer more transparency."

Snowmen are anti-Islamic, promote lust

A cleric in Saudi Arabia has forbidden the building of snowmen: "It is imitating the infidels, it promotes lustiness and eroticism."

Egyptian men acquitted on "debauchery" charges

A group of men arrested at a bathhouse in Egypt, for the benefit of TV reporters filming the raid, have been acquitted in a sensational trial.
The case became known throughout Egypt because a television broadcaster named Mona Iraqi was filming when police dragged them naked from the bathhouse on Dec. 7. Iraqi claimed to have tipped police off to sexual activities inside the bathhouse, and she featured it in a program purporting to tell, “the whole story of the dens for spreading AIDS in Egypt,” on the three nights following the raid. This is the first time a trial court has ever acquitted men accused of homosexuality in a high-profile case, according to human rights activists in Cairo. Tarek el-Awady, one of the defense lawyers, said this was a huge boost for the rule of law in Egypt. Egyptian courts routinely make convictions based on police testimony even when evidence is flimsy, and this was proof that at least some courts are unwilling to rubber stamp their actions.

Gentleman has poo at bus stop

CCTV footage from the United Kingdom captured a man removing his trousers and having a poo in the cool glow of a bus stop: "Some people just don't respect the public transport service."

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to publish Mycroft Holmes novel

N.B.A. All-Star Abdul-Jabbar has been a Sherlock fan for 40 years, reports the NYT's Alexandra Alter.

Read the rest

Corrupt cop caught after driving Ferrari to work

_80128122_dodgy-cop-and-his-car Protip for bent officers: don't drive to your day job in $250,000 cars.

Ch Insp Martin Brennan said [Osman] Iqbal's "greed had been his downfall". The crooked policeman's double life as a gangster was unveiled as a result of his decision to drive the Ferrari to Kings Heath police station. Officers discovered Iqbal, from Ward End, had bank accounts for two non-existent businesses that were being used to launder "hundreds of thousands of pounds" from brothels in the Covent Garden and Marylebone areas of London.

Recall Goodfellas:

We See a new pink caddy convertible. The sticker is still 
in the window.

  FAT LOUIE
Is that beautiful? I got it for 
Dolores.

  JIMMY
(whispering angrily)
You fucking nuts? Didn't I say not 
to go buy anything for a while? 
You got a fucking car?

  FAT LOUIE
Don't get excited. It's okay. My 
mother bought it for us. It's a 
wedding present. It's in her name.

  JIMMY
You're crazy. The bulls are across 
the street. They're watching 
everything we do.

Punk band solves art crime

The BBC: "Members of punk band Stereo Fire Empire have found and returned a $250,000 (£166,000) painting hours after it was stolen from a New Orleans gallery."

Fourth-graders "plot teacher's death"

The nine- and ten-year-olds were overheard by others, ultimately foiling their "plan" to "put antibiotics around the classroom," where their allergic teacher might come into contact with them. The histrionic, terrorists-in-our-midst coverage of silly childrens' bullshit—"Another student seemed to indicate the plan to poison the teacher started with yet another student"—is the most dangerous thing about this.

Fox anchor wonders how we can identify bad guys if we don't know their skin color

Read the rest