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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  

Innocent restaurant review question results in legal freakshow

16015609903_e2bee4cd42_k After visiting Jinjuu, restaurant reviewer Jay Rayner wanted to confirm some basic facts, such as the proprietor having worked in the Gordon Ramsay restaurant empire. Ramsay's people responded with confirmation—and an inexplicably rabid denunciation of the proprietor, Judy Joo. Then Joo responded with a 17-page legal brief in rebuttal.

"Blimey," writes Rayner, "I was only looking for a bit of background."

The letter includes multiple pages of testimonials. In just 36 hours, Joo’s team has solicited responses from around the world… Over the next few weeks legal letters from very expensive lawyers start flying all over London. Gordon Ramsay’s lawyers write to Judy Joo’s lawyers. Judy Joo’s lawyers write to Gordon Ramsay’s.

I ask Judy for a face-to-face interview. I do so a number of times, but she seems more comfortable communicating with people who charge by the hour. I sense she no longer wants to shake my hand. The lawyers accuse me of intimidating behaviour in asking all these questions and costing her a lot of money in legal expenses. They also say that in the circumstances it would be inappropriate for me to review the restaurant. The implication is that I now have a vendetta against Ms Joo, which I don’t. I simply wanted to find out why Gordon Ramsay Holdings should be so angry with her description of her time in the group.

Rayner says Jinjuu isn't bad, but pricey: "OK if you like that sort of thing."

Photo: Kent Wang (cc), who reports "Chicken was bland."

Home HIV tests available in UK

They're £30 and provide results in 15m. 30m home tests have been available in the U.S since 2012, reports AFP.

x 2015-04-27 at 11.35.59 AM

BioSure HIV Self Test allows you to discreetly determine your HIV status in the comfort of your own home at a time that is convenient to you. The test is easy to perform, requires only a tiny drop of blood and gives an extremely accurate, simple to read result in 15 minutes

Old lady denied massive payout after casino glitch

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If a bug in a slot machine says you've won $41.8m, can you claim it? Not in the case of Pauline McKee, 90, denied the payout after Iowa's supreme court sided with the house.

While playing Miss Kitty, a modern, high-tech casino game, she scored a 185 credit win worth $1.85. An on-screen message, however, told her she'd also won the massive bonus. The casino refused to pay out, claiming a malfunction, and the machine was secured for inspection, according to the summary judgment issued Friday.

The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission commissioned independent tests, which found that the machine was programmed to allow bonuses up to $100,000, and that anything beyond that was a bug. The vendor, Aristocrat Technologies, said that it was aware of the fault, had warned casinos to disable the bonus feature, and blamed "component degradation over time" for its occurrence.

The IRGC—and lower courts—nonetheless concluded that operators are not liable for payouts caused by malfunctions. The Iowa Supreme Court agreed, writing that "the rules of the game formed a contract between the patron and the casino, and the patron was not entitled to the bonus under those rules" and citing a prominent warning that "MALFUNCTION VOIDS ALL PAYS AND PLAYS."

That McKee hadn't read the rules was not the Casino's problem: "It is sufficient that those rules were readily accessible to her and she had an opportunity to read them."

The machine's flaws apparently made it impossible for investigators to figure out exactly how the bonus was generated, but all they needed to do was prove that it wasn't generated according to the game's rules.

The logs on the machine do indicate that it thought it received a legacy bonus.

1 However, in reviewing the legacy bonusing aspect of SAS [the casino’s “slot accounting system”] it was noticed that the SAS legacy bonus command can send a bonus up to $99999.99, which is far less than was awarded by the game. Furthermore, the system does not support legacy bonusing. As a result, it appears the SPC board [hardware inside the Miss Kitty machine] erroneously determined that it received a legacy bonus award from the system and sent it to the game. ...

In conclusion, GLI was unable to definitively determine the exact cause of the erroneous bonus award. However, it is apparent, based on the reviewed information that the bonus award was not valid. Unfortunately, given the lack of conclusive evidence, GLI cannot confidently speculate as to how the bonus amount was received and displayed at the gaming machine in question. However, it is highly likely that the erroneous message originated from the SPC 2.0 communication board and was then relayed to the game.

Indeed, the existence of the rules means that whether the machine malfunctioned or not doesn't come into it, at least not in this case's circumstances:

It is only necessary to reach the malfunction defense if McKee otherwise could receive an award under the terms of the contract. Hypothetically, if the casino declined to pay an award that was otherwise payable based on the alignment of the symbols, the casino would then have to establish that the slot machine had a technical malfunction in order to avoid paying the award.

You can play Miss Kitty at home on iOS, Windows, Mac and other systems.

Here's a video of it in action, running on an actual slot machine.

PAULINE McKEE vs ISLE OF CAPRI [PDF]

Obama's email phished

twitter_615 The NYT reports that some of U.S. president's email was "swept up by Russian hackers last year". Though it was only unclassified messages, Pando Daily points out the attack was unsophisticated, and pro hackers are concerned the White House really doesn't have its house in order on security.

Mahler arranged for ZX Spectrum

Via Hacker News, a 10m documentary about using an orchestra of inexpensive personal computers from 1981—each equipped with a single-channel beeper!—to play Mahler's first.

John Oliver on fashion's child labor problem

Designs go from street and runway to the rack in days: "Trendy clothing is cheaper than ever, and cheap clothing is trendier than ever." But it does have a price.

Stuff happens in Game of Thrones

Someone gets his head chopped off, it's pretty cool.Read the rest

Jared Leto's Joker revealed

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Almost as edgy as the goth-themed Minecraft toys in Hot Topic. Those are pretty edgy, you should check them out.

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Obscure corners of WoW's vast world

image.jpg World of Warcraft is full of forgotten corners--beautifully-rendered but abandoned places no longer on the game's questing trail. Atlas Obscura heads out on a nostalgic tour.

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Comcast-Time Warner merger dead

comcass comcast donkey Good.

Credit card swipe machines have shipped with the same password since the 1990s

It would be comical, were it not such big business for bad people.

The vendor wasn't named by the researchers, David Byrne and Charles Henderson, but they did disclose the password: 166816.

A Google search reveals that's the default password for several models of credit card terminal sold by Verifone, a Silicon Valley-based vendor that says it connects 27 million payment devices and has operations in 150 countries.

The researchers said that the password remains in use on nine out of 10 terminals they see from the vendor, in part because customers mistakenly assume it is unique to them.

"Even knowing this password, sensitive payment information or (personally identifiable information) cannot be captured," says Verifone.

Google Maps "vandalism" mocks Google Maps' editing policy

crap

You'd think the kilometer-wide phase "Google review policy is crap", cut into the greenery of Takht Pari Forest near Rawalpindi, Pakistan, alongside a gigantic sad face, would be visible from space. But this is, of course, visible only on Google Maps.

A sly easter egg was added by someone apparently wanting to make clear how easily-fooled the service is into adding things that are not in fact there -- and how potentially unsafe it may be for those depending on it for accurate information.

The discovery—posted to Hacker News by user ilamparithi—comes not long after a huge Google Android robot was spotted urinating on an Apple logo, also near Rawalpindi.

x 2015-04-24 at 10.16.25 AM

The pitfalls of allowing anonymous editing notwithstanding, the snarky virtual lawnmowing is also suggestive of the sprawling nature of Google's international services, recently in the news due to its domination of European search markets.

Google Maps surprises have included penises and secret swastikas, but those were real landscape features revealed by the technology. Lost cities are uncovered, too—though sometimes turn out to be glitches, such as these mysterious, Atlantis-like markings under the sea.

article-2096928-119A879E000005DC-17_634x367

Trap streets are historically added to maps to expose copycat publishers, but this is the first example of a crap park being added to expose the original's own shortcomings.

Random startup announcement generator

After enjoying the random startup company website generator, I remembered that I'd made something similar for Wired 8 years ago. Please enjoy, once again, the random startup announcement generator. Refresh the page to pivot!

This built on the work of various "internet bullshit" generators going around in the mid-oughts. They were a thing.

Random startup company website generator

x 2015-04-23 at 3.26.42 PM I call dibs on "Rubify, The Motivated Way To Rub." Generate.

PayPal split will "hurt eBay"

auction-hammer

The Verge reports on how the coming corporate divorce will likely hurt the retail site.

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New York City subway popular with riders

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Ridership is up in the dark cyberpunk nightmare world beneath New York!

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Reporter confirms low-rated restaurant is bad

x 2015-04-23 at 9.50.16 AM Suspicious of an Italian restaurant's weirdly negative reviews, Tim Carman headed out to see if it was some kind of Yelp bullying thing. Nope, it is just awful. Aftermath: an interview with the manager.