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

 


"Probably a lot of pot smoking at Twitter," says entrepreneur who dreams of floating libertarian island

Silicon Valley investor Peter Thiel, who had better things to invest in than Twitter, trashes the company in a CNBC interview. What's the right latitude to grow sour grapes?

Worst fake punt ever

A football team executed a fake punt so terribly that one component of it--a player pretending to have some kind of seizure on the field of play--seemed strangely authentic.

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Senate rulebook full of derp

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Described by USA Today as "something like an employee manual," the U.S. Senate Handbook is just full of craziness.

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Woman dies in crocodile pit leap

A 65-year-old woman died yesterday after jumping into a lake at a Bangkok zoo containing hundreds of adult crocodiles, reports the BBC: "Thai tourist attractions are said to often have lax safety rules."

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Noct, a scary, stylish monochrome video game

Explore and shoot in the infra-red near-darkness of apocalyptic ruins filled with ancient monsters; the surprisingly terrifying GIF above says everything about this 2D, top-down action RPG. There's no demo, but it's very nearly reached its Kickstarter goal--I'll be right on top of it when it comes out next summer.

Podcasting patent holder awarded $1.3m in legal win over CBS

Personal Audio LLC owns patents related to podcasting—"episodic content transmitted over the internet"—and a jury in Marshall, Texas has let CBS know it.

Personal Audio is a holding company, cobbled together from the patents that were left after a failed startup that Jim Logan founded in 1996. The company became one of the poster children for problematic patents when it claimed that its patent number 8,112,504 was infringed by podcasters, including comedian Adam Carolla. Instead of settling quickly, though, Carolla fought back hard before settling last month.

Adam Carolla is another podcaster sued by these guys; he settled for up to $500,000 last month. Trials will now move forward against NBC, Fox, and other deep-pocketed companies who host HTML files that allow episodic content to be transmitted over the internet, that being the technology patented by Personal Audio LLC.

Brain tumor removed from tiny goldfish

George is recovering after the "high-risk" $200 operation, and may now live another 20 years. Surgeon Dr. Tristan Rich described the procedure as "fiddly."

Town begs church and strip club to stop fighting

Coshocton, Ohio, has about 11,000 residents, a church, and a strip club. Dueling protests are apparently a weekly event, and local law enforcement has had enough of policing them: "The protests are becoming more personal and more problematic, so we felt the need to plead with both sides to at least stop for a while."

What it's like at a modern longsword tournament

Longsword fencing is a popular new event, a rigorous and fast-moving blend of reconstructed medieval martial arts and modern sporting standards.

Panasonic zags in camera land, with large-sensor Android smartphone and 4K point-and-shoot

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Panasonic's CM1 weds a 1-inch camera sensor (as found in high-end point-and-shoots like the Sony RX100 and Canon's just-announced G7X) with a smartphone running Android 4.4.

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Newsweek: American and European cover art compared

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Pennies now cost 1.6 cents to make

Congress has yet to phase out pennies, despite years of plans and the near-useless coin costing more to manufacture than their own face value.

Microsoft to acquire Minecraft for $2.5bn

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Tech giant Microsoft is to buy Mojang, creators of Minecraft, for $2.5bn, reports the Associated Press.

Launched in 2009, Minecraft is a sprawling, endlessly-replayable "sandbox" game that dumps the player in a randomly-generated abstract world. By exploring, gathering materials, crafting items and equipping their avatars, players can set about surviving hostile fauna, launching expeditions deep into ore-filled caverns, and constructing anything from huts to palaces, and even vast machines.

The phenomenal appeal and success of Minecraft -- just check our archives over the last few years! -- is hard to define, but it's been downloaded more than 100 million times since its inception. Created by Markus "Notch" Persson, Minecraft remains the most popular game on Xbox, and the most popular paid game on iOS and Android, according to the AP.

Yet that word hardly scratches the surface of the blocky world-simulator's Lego-like possibilities, though: a fact hit on by Satya Nadella, Microsoft's new CEO, who said that it was "more than a game."

"It is an open world platform, driven by a vibrant community we care deeply about, and rich with new opportunities for that community and for Microsoft," Nadella was quoted as saying in the press release. Microsoft expects to close the sale by the end of 2014, and break even by the end of 2015.

Microsoft also committed to keeping Minecraft available on all the platforms on which it is available today, including Sony Playstation and cellphones running Apple and Google-based operating systems

"Yes, the deal is real," wrote Mojang's Owen Hill at the company's official blog. " ... Please remember that the future of Minecraft and you – the community – are extremely important to everyone involved. If you take one thing away from this post, let it be that."

Notch, he wrote, didn't want the responsibility of owning a company that had become globally successul, and had found that the pressure of owning Minecraft made it impossible to work on other projects.

Here's Microsoft's press release, in full:

Microsoft Corp. today announced it has reached an agreement to acquire Mojang, the celebrated Stockholm-based game developer, and the company’s iconic “Minecraft” franchise.

The Mojang team will join Microsoft Studios, which includes the studios behind global blockbuster franchises “Halo,” “Forza,” “Fable” and more. Microsoft’s investments in cloud and mobile technologies will enable “Minecraft” players to benefit from richer and faster worlds, more powerful development tools, and more opportunities to connect across the “Minecraft” community.

Under the terms of the agreement, Microsoft will acquire Mojang for $2.5 billion. Microsoft expects the acquisition to be break-even in FY15 on a GAAP basis. Subject to customary closing conditions and any regulatory review, the acquisition is expected to close in late 2014.

Available across multiple platforms, “Minecraft” is one of the most popular video games in history, with more than 100 million downloads, on PC alone, by players since its launch in 2009. “Minecraft” is one of the top PC games of all time, the most popular online game on Xbox, and the top paid app for iOS and Android in the US. The “Minecraft” community is among the most active and passionate in the industry, with more than 2 billion hours played on Xbox 360 alone in the past two years. Minecraft fans are loyal, with nearly 90 percent of paid customers on the PC having signed in within the past 12 months.

“Gaming is a top activity spanning devices, from PCs and consoles to tablets and mobile, with billions of hours spent each year,” said Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft. “Minecraft is more than a great game franchise – it is an open world platform, driven by a vibrant community we care deeply about, and rich with new opportunities for that community and for Microsoft.”

“The ‘Minecraft’ players have taken the game and turned it into something that surpassed all of our expectations. The acquisition by Microsoft brings a new chapter to the incredible story of ‘Minecraft,’” said Carl Manneh, CEO, Mojang. “As the founders move on to start new projects, we believe the high level of creativity from the community will continue the game’s success far into the future.”

Microsoft plans to continue to make “Minecraft” available across all the platforms on which it is available today: PC, iOS, Android, Xbox and PlayStation.

“‘Minecraft’ is one of the most popular franchises of all time,” said Phil Spencer, head of Xbox. “We are going to maintain ‘Minecraft’ and its community in all the ways people love today, with a commitment to nurture and grow it long into the future.”

More details will be available upon the acquisition closing.

What's in Boing Boing's developer's gadget bag?

Dean Putney reveals all over at Cool Tools.

Urban Outfitters: "not our intention" to allude to Kent State shootings with red-stained, holed Kent State shirt

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In 1970, Army National Guardsmen opened fire on students at Kent State University in Ohio who were protesting the Vietnam War. The troops killed four of the students and wounded nine. In 2014, Urban Outfitters offered for sale a "Vintage Kent State Sweatshirt", spattered with what appear to be fake bulletholes or bloodstains, at a cost of $129.

On Twitter, the garment met with poor reviews, though many made a point of the retailer's longstanding willingness to generate and exploit outrage.

"Urban Outfitters explores the outer reaches of bad taste," wrote @NYCSouthpaw . "Urban Outfitters are selling a “vintage” Kent State jumper, blood splatters and all. Nothing says “hip” like murder," wrote Cory Zanoni.

The item is now "sold out", according to the website—but it's appeared on eBay (Update: the auction was subsequently removed), with a $2500 "buy it now" price tag and a sleazy fig-leaf promise of a charity donation: "I ordered it and am waiting myself, as soon as it arrives, I'll ship it to you. Perfect for Halloween or whatever your deal is." Screen Shot 2014-09-15 at 10.30.28 AM

In the past, other Urban Outfitters items to disappear during a PR imbroglio included designs swiped from independent artists, T-shirts featuring badges similar to those Jews were forced to wear in Nazi Germany, skull shirts featuring the Star of David, a Depression Logo Cropped Tee," and a "Ganesh" duvet. [via]

UPDATE: Kent State University issued a statement condemning Urban Outfitters.

May 4, 1970, was a watershed moment for the country and especially the Kent State family. We lost four students that day while nine others were wounded and countless others were changed forever.

We take great offense to a company using our pain for their publicity and profit. This item is beyond poor taste and trivializes a loss of life that still hurts the Kent State community today.

We invite the leaders of this company as well as anyone who invested in this item to tour our May 4 Visitors Center, which opened two years ago, to gain perspective on what happened 44 years ago and apply its meaning to the future.

UPDATE: Urban Outfitters "apologized" and is "extremely saddened that this item was perceived" as alluding to the Kent State tragedy: "There is no blood on this shirt nor has this item been altered in any way. The red stains are discoloration from the original shade of the shirt and the holes are from natural wear and fray."

assholes