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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  

Excuses for not putting a woman on a U.S. banknote

US_$20_1929_Federal_Reserve_Bank_Note "How Hard Would It Be to Change the Face on the $20?" asks Jaime Fuller. All choices, unfortunately, are "bound to cause political tantrums."

The electronic music of tomorrow

linnstrument straight, noaka 8-26-14-crop-u15412Roger Linn invented a brilliant new keyboard, sensitive to touch in three dimensions, for playing electronic music. Wired's Rene Chun covers how the Linnstrument has progressed since its debut.

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Spielberg to direct Ready Player One movie


A film of Ready Player One, Ernest Cline's excellent sci-fi novel about a virtual reality treasure hunt that turns lethal, will be directed by the legendary filmmaker. Deadline reports on his first flick in 14 years.

With this news, a question arises about how they will bring a key element of the book’s virtual world to life for the big screen. After all, it seems imperative for the audience to feel like they were dropped into the middle of a video game.

That kind of technology is just becoming available, and if these guys implement that, this could change the face of cinema. The studio has been on the cutting edge of this kind of thing before, pushing the envelope with technology and visual effects with such films as The Lego Movie, Inception and The Matrix – all with great results. If anyone can pull it off again, it will be these guys.

RPO is about a dead VR mogul's fortune, concealed in a vast online world, and the kids desperate--not least because of their real-world poverty or other circumstances--to find it. The contradictions of utopia, reality, virtuality and mundanity are threaded throughout, but it's a fast-paced YA yarn too; read Mark's review for more.

I hope Spielberg shoots some straight-up cinema and skips the lure of extravagant 3D gimmicks, let alone actual VR. It's a timely story, but doesn't need to end up a thing of its time.

Book art:

Fake service dogs everywhere

badmocap An actual service dog in casual attire. Photo: David Lewandowski

"Service dog fraud" is a thing, now. Qualified handlers are aggravated by the increase of people saying their dogs are service animals, allowing them entry to cool human-only places, when they are not.

The BBC reports that "it is easy to buy a service dog vest on the internet, such as this one at Amazon.

Issues with both service dogs and ESAs highlight a disquiet amongst some Americans regarding increasingly strict rules controlling where animals are allowed.

"I think a lot of this could be resolved by having different legislation about animals being allowed in public transportation and perhaps in cafes and more public places," says Dunbar.

"Unfortunately it is going in the other direction, which is I why I think we are seeing so much abuse."

BBC sacks Jeremy Clarkson

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Angered by the lack of hot food provided for him late at night, he verbally abused and ultimately physically attacked a colleague and had to be pulled away.

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How not to make a toupée

"A man in Norway faces jail after cutting off his own hair and beard and then gluing it to another man’s head in an apparent attempt to create a toupée." [The Local via Arbroath]

Mom jeans back in, and it has nothing to do with so-called hipster irony

snl-mom-jeans-skit-photoContrary to those who think it's some kind of "hipster thing," mom jeans are not normcore—they're just a return to what was fashionable a generation ago, straight-leg light-wash cotton jeans with high rises: "irony as a lifestyle choice is over."

Reddit's most toxic communities charted

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Based on analysis of personal attacks and other machine-learned elements of language, a research company figured out which subreddits are the most toxic, then charted that toxicity against supportiveness. The results reveal much about the cultish and casual nature of various subreddits--and, often, myths about what places are really so bad.

For example, while certain "usual suspects" proved to be highly toxic and (Edit: NOT) supportive--r/atheism and r/theredpill, for example--others failed to live up to their cultlike reputation. r/headphones, for example, turns out to be a fairly laid-back lounge rather than the formidable bastion of deranged audiophilia redditors seem to regard it as. Other extremes: r/libertarian is notably supportive without toxicity, while r/relationships is notably toxic without the supportiveness its name promises.

Update: I misread the supportive axis on the chart! It's inverted. So, r/libertarian is nontoxic but unsupportive, etc.

And r/DIY is neither supportive and [edit:NON] toxic--you can either follow the instructions or not. receive an abundance of helpful assistance from patient experts.

At the center of the chart, the PC Master Race. (Notably absent from the charts: toxic venues that are also supportive.)

Motherboard's Kaleigh Rogers explains the details and the algorithm used, and offers an interactive chart of bigotry to play with. Can you guess which is the most bigoted subreddit?

Ugly Mail extension spots email tracking tricks

Brian Barrett quotes creator Sonny Tulyaganov: “[Streak] allowed users track emails, see when, where and what device were used to view email…very disturbing, so decided to see who is actually tracking emails in my inbox.

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Amazon permitted to test delivery drones

Times are a'changin' at the FAA: "The Federal Aviation Administration on Thursday gave Amazon permission to conduct test flights of its drones outdoors, as long as the company obeys a host of rules like flying below 400 feet and only during daylight hours."

Mad Max: Fury Road international trailer

[Youtube link, via]

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Google Glass chief "amazed" by privacy issues that helped kill his project


Here's Astro Teller, chief of Google's Glass project, on its failure:

"I'm amazed by how sensitively people responded to some of the privacy issues," Teller explains, expressing frustration about the backlash against Glass in public, given the prevalence of mobile video. "When someone walks into a bar wearing Glass... there are video cameras all over that bar recording everything." If it were around a year ago "they'd be Meerkatting," Teller joked.

"Society's issues about privacy are completely legitimate," Teller said. "I'm not making an apology for Google Glass. Google Glass did not move the needle... it was literally a rounding error on the number of cameras in your life."

It's not surprising that Google would hire someone possessed by a visionary disinterest in personal privacy, but it is surprising that he's so baffled by it. Look at that final, bathetic flash of frustration: other people are watching you, why are you angry at us doing it?

It's so insulated as to invite laughter. Oh, look, another well-off white fellow whose personal imperviousness denies him an appreciation of privacy's value! But this is a lesson in Google's general lack of self-awareness.

Its vision is of a world where where we share everything, and where it is the technological glue making such a world not only possible, but a good thing. So they hire visionaries to whom privacy is a trivial concern.

But right now, the things that make Google money are dependent on the value of privacy. It sells access to people, to information about them. It engineers environments where the edges of personal space are exposed. Then it applies heat to our privacy, and exploits the phase-change as it melts.

The result is paradoxical: Google hires people who already think in terms of Google as the social fabric of a high-tech future. But it should be hiring handmaidens of perception, people who know that getting there requires an adroit understanding of our relationship to privacy.

Facebook, funnily enough, has the same problem in reverse: it's ruthlessly adept at shaving away and monetizing the melting edge of personal privacy, but has no visible plan for survival after new technology makes social bonds too obvious to exploit (or moves them somewhere Facebook can't go)

Microsoft to kill Internet Explorer brand


The Blackwater of browsers is to get a new name, which you will immediately start using, completely forgetting the old one and all its negative connotations.

Tom Warren at The Verge:

Internet Explorer will still exist in some versions of Windows 10 mainly for enterprise compatibility, but the new Project Spartan will be named separately and will be the primary way for Windows 10 users to access the web. Microsoft has tried, unsuccessfully, to shake off the negative image of Internet Explorer over the past several years with a series of amusing campaigns mocking Internet Explorer 6. The ads didn't improve the situation, and Microsoft's former Internet Explorer chief left the company in December, signalling a new era for the browser.

I've thought about all the things that might be said, negative and positive alike, about this particular iceberg on the sea of computing misfortune. Internet Explorer was, on the one hand, the very worst of Microsoft at its worst: the embodiment of embrace, extend, extinguish, used ruthlessly to destroy an innovative competitor, a major source of standardization murk, and finally left to fester, a vile sore on the arse of web development, for years and years after it had served its purpose.

On the other hand, it was pretty great on Mac.

Man bored on plane makes dance remix of cabin noises

Don't read the comments. [Video Link]

Arabic-inscribed ring found in Viking grave

Viking-Islamic-Ring This beautiful glass ring adds archaeological weight to established history of Viking-Islamic contact: "Being the only ring with an Arabic inscription found at a Scandinavian archaeological site, it is a unique object among Swedish Viking Age material."

Trump launches presidential bid

Having received a birthday gift from Vladimir Putin, he is once again a viable candidate. [Daily Mail]

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Tech site's failure not a bellwether, say insiders

doom Farhad Manjoo reports on the recent demise of GigaOm, the tech news website founded by Om Malik. Though it roasted $30m before creditors shut it down, "digital media darlings" are unfazed.

Gigaom’s downfall does not offer easy lessons for media start-ups. Gigaom, pronounced Giga-ohm, was special, and not in a good way, according to more than half a dozen staffers and executives, many of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity, citing nondisclosure agreements with the company. It was a company troubled by poor leadership, a history of spending beyond its means and an inattention to major problems that had dogged its businesses for years.

Just because everyone's gliding on thermals of burning money, doesn't mean they'll all crash in the same field.

Near-Death Experiences examined scientifically

Anoxia, heaven, or tall tales? Scientists are trying to pin down what happens to our consciousness on the edge of death.

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"Missing" Putin shows up

"Life would be boring without gossip", he told reporters in St. Petersburg, making his first public appearance in 10 days.

Christopher Poole on leaving 4chan

"'I'm not easily offended,' Poole says, 'but I have never sought out the grotesque.'" Gamergate was the last straw, as Rolling Stone reports it.

Power-friendly USB-C ports yank MagSafe off table


Charging by USB port means the end, for the new 12" MacBook, of MagSafe. Gravity is once again your enemy.

Why Macs have millions of tiny files

Glenn Fleishman answers questions about the digital dark matter OSX keeps around. Blame Unix.

Isis flag turns out to be jacket stuck in tree


Police summoned by alarmed residents in Italy found that the suspected Islamist flag was, in fact, laundry that had fallen off a washing line. [Photo: Thelocal]

FCC releases 400-page Net Neutrality order

Enjoy, I guess!

Manhattan stereotypes subway map

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The most judgmental map of New York City yet is at its most judgmental when no name is given at all. The Real Manhattan Subway Map [Thrillist via Kottke]

Two in five subscribe to streaming video service

According to Nielsen, 36 percent of American households get Netflix, 13 percent Amazon Prime, and 6.5 percent Hulu Plus. [NYT]

Who is your favorite complex black female antihero?

Latonya Pennington wants more of them: "Why can’t strong female characters just be complex?"

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How the color purple was defined


Purple dye, so expensive as to connote imperial power, was made from the mucous of sea snails. Then a teenage chemist sat down and tried to make synthetic quinine.

Minimalist posters: "lack of nuance disguised as insight"

jedi Dis you see "Return of the Jedi" in this image before you were told that's what it was? John Brownlee lets the hate flow through him: "minimalist posters can help us gain new insight into complicated subjects...but they rarely do, because that sort of focus is difficult for any but the most talented designers to attain."

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