Boing Boing 

Sean Bonner

i like stuff

Switching to a straight razor

I stared, face lathered up, sweat dripping, hand shaking, into the fogging mirror in my bathroom almost every day for over 2 weeks before I built up the courage to actually put the 4" razor to my face and take a swipe.

The fact that I hadn't shaved on any regular basis for any period in my life because of the bloody mess that inevitably ensued didn't help matters, but mostly I was just afraid of slicing my jugular wide open and being mocked after my death for as the idiot who even attempted this in the first place. I took a deep breath and went for it.

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Back issues of COILHOUSE now available digitally

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The fine folks at COILHOUSE magazine (mentioned many a time here in the past, and who featured Xeni and Boing Boing Video in issue 3 have just put made available for the first time all five back issues as DRM-free PDF downloads. Issues are $5 each or $20 for all five, with promises that the funds from this will go directly into the production of issue number 6. The COILHOUSE team are some of my favorite people; if you missed picking up the printed versions when they were available, now is your chance to catch up.

iPhone app store of "Color" may be best app store review ever

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The photo sharing/social network app Color launched last week, and much fuss was made for a variety of reasons: massive media hype, massive funding, and a complete lack of documentation about how people should actually use the app. Mike 3K found this brilliant iPhone app store review of Color, which makes the whole affair worthwhile. Read the whole thing here.

Pakistani Actress Veena Malik schools a mullah about Islam

[Video Link] Veena Malik is a Pakistani actress who appeared on the very popular Indian TV show Bigg Boss (the Indian version of Big Brother). In the clip above, a mullah tells her she brought shame on Pakistan with her behavior on the show, and that 100% of Pakistanis agree with him. The mullah also admits he didn't watch the show himself, but knows all of this to be true.

Veena responds by pretty much mopping up the floor with him. She points out out how her religion backs up her actions, where he's in violation of the same rules he's taking her to task for. She also says if he wishes to defend Islam, there are countless targets more deserving of close inspection, but here he is instead wasting his time complaining about an actress.

It's fantastic. The world needs to see more of this. Go Veena!

(via soupsoup)

Tsunami vs Japanese Harbor

[video link] This eyewitness video of the March 11 tsunami striking Japan shows how, in under 10 minutes, a harbor in Oirase Town, Aomori Prefecture goes from business as usual to, well, gone. While other videos have shown massive destruction or endless floods, this one shows a huge dry area that completely fills with water, making it easy to see just how much water was being pushed around. It's so hard to believe this actually happened. The guy filming it must have been scared to death.

XKCD's radiation dose chart

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[click chart to embiggen] There has been much talk of radiation exposure levels in the news, and here on Boing Boing, this past week. But it can be hard to wrap your head around what those measurements mean, and how they compare to things you may have already experienced in life. Well, it was, until XKCD created this exceptionally helpful chart showing exactly how much radiation exposure you might encounter by doing something like flying from LA to NYC, getting a chest x-ray, hanging out at Chernobyl, living near the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan, or sleeping next to another human being. This rules.

RDTN.org: crowdsourcing and mapping radiation levels

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One issue that has emerged during the nuclear crisis in Japan is that there isn't always a reliable source for radiation levels from specific areas. RDTN.org has just launched, an experiment to help address that need. The site allows people to submit their own reads, and maps them out next to data from official sources and measurement dates. This way, anyone can quickly get an idea of what is happening on the ground, first-hand. The site is brand new but should be very useful going forward.

Also worth noting and specific to what is going on in Japan right now, JapanStatus.org is "a dashboard of accurate, sourced information on the situation in Japan following the March 2011 disaster."

The Silver Lake Badminton And Adventurers Club

[Video Link] - I've just stumbled across the pilot episode of The Silver Lake Badminton And Adventurers Club. I found it very amusing, and not just because I live in Silver Lake (a neighborhood in Los Angeles). From their brief history:

Founded in San Francisco in 1947 by Remi Boncœur, Sal Paradise, and Dean Moriarty, the organization that would become the Silver Lake Badminton and Adventurers Club was originally intended to foster team building and leadership skills amongst intrepid young adventurers through the ancient sport of Badminton.

Headquartered in the Mission, the club boasted amongst its members, Brick Bradford, known for his long toss, shorthand, and jetpack. From the Deep South came the tag team of brute strength and graceful agility, Blanche DuBois and Stanley Kowalski. Finally, there was legendary Tom Joad, who it was reputed, could handle a shuttlecock with more finesse than any player in the greater United States. Badminton appealed to the sporting mentalities of these founding members, but the exclusivity of shuttlecocks did not quench their thirst for the true bones of America. The answer came in the form of a murder, a murder that the adventurers followed down the coast.

The club is on twitter as well, where hopefully they'll announce more episodes soon! [Thanks Tara]

Virtual Cafe opens to help New Zealand Earthquake victims

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The Christchurch cafe is a site where you can buy virtual items you might find in a coffee shop, from a $2 espresso to a $300 espresso machine. This is a creative and interesting way of raising aid donations: 100% of funds raised go directly to the community in Christchurch, New Zealand, which was hit hard by the earthquake last week. I love this idea, and would love to see this kind of thing catch on. It's an inspired way to encourage people to help out financially after a disaster.

Coffee Common: roasters roast one other at TED

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Last week I was excited to announce the birth of Coffee Common, a project of coffee enthusiasts (one of them being me) coming together to improve the experience of coffee for both industry and consumers. I mentioned that to kick off the launch, the project organizers and a handful of baristas from around the world will be spending this week in conjunction with the TED conference talking about (and serving) a few noteworthy selections from a select group of roasters.

We narrowed our list to the roasters we know have beautiful coffees with clarity and balance on their offering menus—and, who would be able to produce, roast and ship enough coffee to meet the needs of the thirsty TED attendees, at their own expense.

Normally, these roasters would consider each others competition, but the Coffee Common project is about collaboration. So we had an idea. We could write a short introduction for each included roaster, or we could assign each participating roaster the task of writing the intro for one of the others - knowing very well that one of the others would be writing theirs as well. This sounded much more interesting to us. After all, your fans can gush about you, but what your competition says may be more telling. So with that in mind...

Intelligentsia - introduced by James Hoffman of Square Mile Coffee
Stumptown - Introduced by Benjamin Kaminsky of Ritual Roasters
Has Bean - Introduced by Peter Giuliano of Counter Culture Coffee
Square Mile - Introduced by Trevor Corlett of Madcap Coffee
Ritual Roasters - Intriduced by George Howell of Terroir Coffee
Terroir Coffee - Introduced by Steve Leighton of Has Bean

More introductions will be posted soon. As TED kicks off today and everyone will finally be together in person, we'll be posting interviews, videos and dishing out the info throughout the week on coffeecommon.com and on twitter @coffeecommon.
(photo of Ritual Roasters by Scott Beale / Laughing Squid)

Operation "Libya White Fax"

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After observing the growing unrest and correspondingly violent crackdown in Libya, a group of hackers conceived and launched Operation Libya White Fax: while the internet and data connections are being throttled, cut off and censored, phone lines are still open, and fax machines are still working. So, with a list of numbers that have fax machines on the other end, and one fax document packed with timely info, time-sensitive information on how to route around censorship can get to people inside Libya.

The information document is online [PDF mirror] and so is the list of numbers to send it to. The info is coming from We Re-Build's main Libya page and will be updated as needed. This document helps people in Libya learn how to connect to dial-up internet, and route around the government-ordered communication blocks. In a time like this, that can make all the difference in the world.

Coffee Common Launches


(photos by Kyle Glanville)

I take my coffee pretty seriously. So the idea of some of the most respected names in the coffee business—who, under normal circumstances, consider one another competition—coming together to work towards a common goal is very interesting to me. As a consumer I'm always trying to get my hands on really delicious coffee. As an enthusiast, I'm constantly annoying my local baristas with questions. As an advocate—well, my advocacy work to date has consisted mostly of caffeinated rants to friends. But a few months ago, the opportunity to explore that a little deeper presented itself.

In December, my friend Stephen Morrissey, who works at Intelligentsia, called with a crazy idea. In 2010, they provided coffee services for the TED conference in hopes of spreading the word about really good coffee. Stephen also happened to be the 2008 world barista champ; he knows about really good coffee. His idea for this year: rather than just serving coffee, the goal would be education. Rather than employees of a single company, the bars would be staffed by some of the best baristas in the business from all around the world. Rather than beans from one roaster, various skilled and talented roasters would be contributing the best they had to offer. This wouldn't be advertising for a single company, it would be advertising for coffee itself. But does anyone really need to learn about something as ubiquitous as coffee? And would something this weird even be possible? Turns out the short answer to both questions is yes.

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An informative video about the Honey Badger

I found this video about the Honey Badger to be very educational. (NSFW)

Visit to Friends of Amateur Rocketry, in Mojave desert

[Video Link]

The Los Angeles hackerspace CRASHspace, of which I am a co-founder, took a drive out to California's Mojave desert to visit the Friends of Amateur Rocketry and deliver some gifts. It was quite an adventure, as the mini-documentary video we produced should demonstrate.

The fun, exciting, potentially deadly world of Tactical Pens

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[Editor's note: Pesco posted about these weaponized writing implements here last year; today, enjoy a hands-on from guestblogger Sean Bonner. —XJ]

What the crap is a tactical pen? A pen that kicks ass, basically. And I don't just mean it's "a kick-ass pen," I mean: this pen could literally kick your ass. To death, maybe. But it's also a pen, so it's civilized. No definitive answer on how mighty a tactical pen is in comparison to a sword, but the tactical pen is definitely mightier than the regular pen.

After first hearing about these on Every Day Carry, I decided I needed to see one in person. So I picked one up. Then another. Then did some comparing and contrasting, all scientifical-like. I can now share my results with you. Here's a few that happen to be in front of me as I write this post.

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From L to R: Smith & Wesson Tactical Pen, Emergency Survival Covert Spy Ventilator Pen (carbon fiber), County Comm Embassy Elite Pen (stainless), Pilot Easy Touch (fine point), Sharpie (standard).

The first one I picked up was the Smith & Wesson Tactical Pen. I figured they make guns and bullets and stuff so they probably could make a pretty bad-ass tactical pen, right?

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Father & Son launch iPhone into Space

This video first hit the internets last year—but it's no less cool now. From the description:

Father and Son team launch an iphone into space. The iphone along with a HD camera were lifted up to an altitude of 100 000ft above New York using a helium filled balloon. At this atitude the weather balloon burst and sent the iphone, camera and burst container hurtling towards the earth at 150mph even with the parachute open! Thanks to the iPhones internal GPS, the capsule and its contents were located intact in a tree 30 miles north of the liftoff site!

Unfortunately it's covered with crappy ads and has a mountain of keyword spam on YouTube, but it's still a great video. (Thanks Glen)

The people of Fort Wayne, Indiana love Harry Baals

The citizens of Fort Wayne, Indiana really do love their former Mayor Harry Baals, and they're about to have the most awesomely named public facility in the history of all time.

[Video Link]

(Thanks Luke)

(UPDATE: They've closed the poll, but you can still view the totals - RB)

Playmobil Stop Motion Joy Division

That's right. Joy Division's "Transmission" as performed by Playmobil toys in stop motion. It's right in all the wrong ways. [Video Link]

Black Metal Greeting Cards

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(inside captions, left image: "If I had a heart I'd give it to you." Right image: "Another step closer to the grave")

My hunt for the perfect greeting cards has come to a triumphant end. Dark & Somber Greeting (Etsy shop) is pretty much everything I could have ever hoped for. Valentines and Birthday cards shown above.
(Thanks Theron)

Toby Morse's One Life One Chance

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Toby Morse, singer for the NYC Hardcore band H20 has spent the better part of the last year or so building up his One Life One Chance project. Inspired by the creativity and positivity he experienced in the punk / hardcore scene over so many years, Toby decided to create a vehicle to share that message with school age children across the country. Adopting the Bad Brains' PMA (positive mental attitude) as his slogan, he spoke at schools and spread the word in 2010, and plans to do the same and more in 2011.

His message is largely his own story about being straight edge and being in the band H2O. While he does talk about the upside of sober living, the bigger point seems to be the power of positive thinking and accepting people even when they are different than you. I think this is such a better approach than the old "Just Say No" or DARE campaigns. If you work at or with a school, check this out and consider having him come speak to your kids!

Make cool stuff with the new RJD2 album

insanew_axes_bw_72dpi.jpg RJD2 has just released his new album 'we are the doorways' as his alter-ego The Insane Warrior. As he explains in this blog post, the album was inspired by endless hours on Netflix watching 1975-1984 era scifi and horror movies; in a sense, this new album is the soundtrack to a movie that was never made.

And that's where you fit into this equation.

Tara Brown (aka my wife) was inspired by his post idea, so she set up a fan/submission site where anyone can send in cool things they've done with the album. Visual, audio, whatever. You can make the movie for which this album is the soundtrack. Or make a video for one of the songs, or make anything, really. RJ thought this was rad too, and offered to, some point in the future, will pick his favorite submission(s) and dish out a bunch of prizes. You can submit stuff here.

This project is completely fan-made, but has the endorsement of the artist. That is pretty cool. I wish more artists would be open to collaborating like this instead of just dishing out the cease and desists.

Vintage television commercials from the 1950s through 1980s

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Duke University has a digital library of vintage television commercials spanning some three decades, from the 1950s to the 1980s. The body of work in this collection includes ads for once-classic and now obscure brands like Super Bravo, Fluffo, Byrrh, Heart of Oats, Klean n Shine, Virex, Ansco and others, as well as brands still common today: Avis, Bounce, Charmin and something weird called Maxwell House.

You can browse the collection online and watch the commercials right in iTunes, and even subscribe to a specific brand and pull down every commercial they aired during those years. Check out Duke's AdViews. (Thanks Tara)

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Sexual harassment stock photography

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The folks over at The Hairpin have collected what is shaping up to be a lovely collection of sexual harassment in the workplace stock photography. It's looking really good today. Really good. You know what I'm talking about.

StartingPage now returns Google search results, privately

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Google and other search engines track what users search; over time, the data collected can be pretty revealing, so much so that the DOJ wants access. For the most part, privacy policies are only as good as the lawyers backing them, and "law of the land" can trump anything. And all of that adds up to worrisome prospects for all of us.

But what if no data were collected to begin with?

That's the approach Starting Page is taking. Starting today, they claim to serve as a sort of middle-man between you and Google that keeps no records or data on their own at all. So even if they were subpoenaed by, say, the DoJ, they'd have none of your search data to hand over. And all Google knows is someone made a search from Starting Page, but there's no way for them to know whose searches are whose. Starting Page even has a Firefox plugin that uses HTTPS for the browser search bar.

Fancy little "design it yourself" pocketknife

switch.jpgIf you've ever purchased a Swiss army knife, you know the hardest part of choosing your knife is just figuring out which one fits your needs best.

Do you need this blade or that saw? A magnifying glass or a USB stick? Corkscrew or scissors?

Well, what if you didn't have to choose? Quirky is selling an interesting take on this idea with the Switch:

Switch is the ultimate modular pocketknife, with 17 different attachments so you can mix and match your most frequently used tools. Customize your Switch's width by swapping out the inner axles, or group your tools into different "themes" — home, office, outdoors, etc.
It's not dirt cheap, but then again, a quality Swiss army knife isn't either. I'd be interested to see one in person, the concept images are nice, but a real photo would be a bit more informative. Check it out here.

Tonight in LA: e-Textiles at CRASHspace

dress.jpgWest Coast take note! Tonight CRASHspace will be hosting an e-textiles show and tell. What's an "e-textiles show and tell"? No one knows for sure, but it will be awesome that's a fact. There are some fancy guests/speakers/presenters lined up, including Lynne Bruning (Denver), Anouk Wipprecht (Netherlands), Syuzi Pakhchyan (Los Angeles) and Matt Pinner (Los Angeles). Stuff will be shown off. Questions will be answered. Fun will be had. Video will be live streamed. CRASHspace is located at 10526 Venice Blvd, Culver City CA 90232 - Admission is free but as the space is 100% member and donation funded, a $5 donation is strongly encouraged and heartily welcome.

What's Happening in Egypt, the Action Movie Explainer: "Raiders of the Lost Mubarak"

raiders.jpg After she realized many people couldn't wrap their heads around what was going on in Egypt, Furrygirl decided to turn to Hollywood staples and made this Raiders of the Lost Ark mashup version which explains things pretty clearly.

Full graphic follows, below...

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Great mini-doc about Brazillian tattooist Maneko

Maneko - Mini doc from 13thUnit on Vimeo.

This is a fantastic mini-documentary (about 8 minutes) about vegan straight edge tattoo artist Maneko from Brazil. Some great thoughts about appreciating the good things in life to help you get through the bad times.

List of missing people in Egypt

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As unrest continues to grow in Egypt, so, too, does the number of people who are missing and unaccounted for. Samer Karam and Dara Mouracade have put together a shared spreadsheet with information about missing people and when/where they were last seen (as well as links to their online profiles and accounts). If anyone has any information about these folks please reach out to Samer or Dara and help update the list, or help pass it on so that it hopefully ends up in the hands of someone who does have info.

Egypt turns off internet, Lieberman wants same option for US

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[UPDATE: A roundup of BoingBoing's ongoing coverage of events in Egypt is here.]


On Thursday Jan 27th at 22:34 UTC the Egyptian Government effectively removed Egypt from the internet. Nearly all inbound and outbound connections to the web were shut down. The internet intelligence authority Renesys explains it here and confirms that "virtually all of Egypt's Internet addresses are now unreachable, worldwide." This has never happened before in the entire history of the internet, with a nation of this size. A block of this scale is completely unheard of, and Senator Joe Lieberman wants to be able to do the same thing in the US.

This isn't a new move, last year Senators Lieberman and Collins introduced a fairly far-reaching bill that would allow the US Government to shut down civilian access to the internet should a "Cybersecurity Emergency" arise, and keep it offline indefinitely. That version of the bill received some criticism though Lieberman continued to insist it was important. The bill, now referred to as the 'Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act' (PCNAA) has been revised a bit and most notably now removes all judicial oversight. This bill is still currently circulating and will be voted on later this year. Lieberman has said it should be a top priority.

It's worth noting that the US sends $1.3 billion in annual military aid to Egypt. That makes the US the primary benefactor of the current Egyptian government. Vice President Joe Biden stated in an interview with Jim Lehrer on Thursday that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who has held that office since 1981, should not be considered a dictator. His opinion is not shared universally.

Mother Jones has a fantastic play-by-play explaining the situation right now in Egypt, and there are reports that some people using Tor are able to skirt around the governmental blocks.

This is something Americans should be paying very close attention to. Think about your daily life and how big a role the internet plays in it. Now think about what it would be like if one person had the authority to turn that off completely. If you can't imagine what that would be like you aren't alone. A week ago this was a hypothetical scenario. Now, you can just ask an Egyptian citizen what that feels like. Pay close attention to what happens with this bill.