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From Page to Screen: Joseph Delaney on The Last Apprentice Series

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Some people think that being a writer is glamorous. I know that I once did. I dreamed of finally getting published and all the amazing fun that would follow. I imagined traveling to distant countries, staying in city hotels and seeing the sights.

Most of these dreams came true and I do enjoy it, but sometimes it can be hard work: having to grab a coffee and manage without breakfast to be in time to travel to some school event; attending a bookshop when hardly anybody turns up; spending a night alone in a strange town on a wet Monday; visiting a big city but seeing only the inside of your hotel room. So when you actually do live the life of a writer, it’s not as glamorous as some people might believe.

The same is true of filmmaking. In the spring of 2012, I visited Vancouver, Canada, to watch the movie version of The Last Apprentice: Revenge of the Witch (published in the UK as The Spook’s Apprentice) being made. The film is called Seventh Son, and the name is a good choice. After all you have to be a seventh son of a seventh son just to be eligible to become a spook’s apprentice.

They have created some amazing sets, designed by Dante Ferretti, winner of an Oscar for his work on Hugo. I was shown the preliminary models and artworks, then the sets themselves. They are very big and very convincing. I saw a walled city set in a huge muddy field. It was like a building site, complete with heavy machinery and workers in hard hats. There was no glamour there.

That comes afterward.

I met Jeff Bridges, who plays the Spook. He looked convincing. He believed that he was the Spook—I could see it in his eyes. Yes, he was the Spook! Then I watched him playing the same scene over and over again until he and everyone else (especially the director, Sergei Bodrov), were satisfied. There were a lot of people involved, and each one of them knew exactly what to do. It was an action scene and the Spook kept falling backward against a pillar, in danger of his life. He was covered in dust and he probably had bruises or at least aching bones the following day. It wasn’t glamorous. It was hard work.

The glamour comes later.

After four months of filming, post-production began. They spent hours, days, weeks, and months editing the film until each section was perfect. Now, like a Pendle witch casting the spell called “glamour,” the film comes to life and the magic will be there.

Is it a good film? The answer is yes. I watched a special preview of Seventh Son in Paris in a small private cinema belonging to Universal Studios.

Is it spectacular? The answer is yes. I watched it in 3-D, and there is a great deal of action, conflict, and combat. There are creatures of the dark that lurch out of the screen and try to remove your head, your heart, or maybe even your thumb bones. And there are witches; lots and lots of witches.

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New Commemorative Edition of Neil Gaiman’s Newbery Medal Winner THE GRAVEYARD BOOK

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In commemoration of more than 1 million copies sold, this special paperback edition of The Graveyard Book features a gorgeous metallic gold cover, new content from Neil Gaiman, and sketches by illustrator Dave McKean.

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Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book graphic novel!

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Celebrate Neil Gaiman's Newbery Medal Winner The Graveyard Book with a Two-Volume Graphic Novel Adaptation.

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Content Vs. Technology: What’s Your Story?

When it comes to storytelling, where are design and technology taking us? “Whatever is next in storytelling, design, and technology, it will always be about rendering emotional transportation—capturing attention and converting it into intention,” says Hollywood producer Peter Guber, CEO of Mandalay Entertainment. “Every story has a call to action.” Guber is one of 14 leaders in the entertainment industry who will decode the DNA of storytelling, design, and technology at the second annual Envision Symposium in Monterey, California.

When a group of the brightest thinkers in the entertainment industry gather at the Envision Symposium at the Steinbeck Forum in Monterey, CA (the original home of TED), the biggest question on the table will be: where are we going in terms of technology and design when it comes to the art of storytelling? “If you are involved in any aspect of the art and science of storytelling, please bring your ideas and passions to contribute to the exchange of ideas shaping the future of live performance,” says Bran Ferren, the technologist head of Applied Minds, who was recently written up in Wired for the high-tech camping vehicle he is building for his four-year-old daughter, Kira. Ferren serves as one of the creative consultants for Envision, along with video designer Bob Bonniol of Mode Studios, who notes, “help us create the fusion of old and new, of classic narrative and wondrous new technologies. Envision how we will all continue to make myths, share wisdom, laughter, and love in ways we haven't even begun to imagine."

For Butch Allen, a top concert designer whose clients range from Nickelback to No Doubt, “storytelling, technology, and design are stranded on an island. The exploration of their new, strange home begins. As one expects: a lamp is stumbled upon, rubbing ensues, a genie appears and grants one single wish for the waylaid disciplines to share.” Also part of the concert industry is director Amy Tinkham, who has worked with Madonna, The Dixie Chicks, Aerosmith, and Mötley Crüe, and who echoes the strength of storytelling as the basis of her work: “Rather than swirling in a sea of high-tech spectacle, we now have the opportunity to use the new and exquisite paintbrushes of technology to dig deep into storytelling, and to reacquaint ourselves with our humanity.”

Considered by some to be the world’s oldest profession, what then is the future of storytelling. Christopher Barreca, winner of the 2014 Tony Award for Best Scenic Design of a Musical for Rocky, feels that what’s important is “achieving individual artistic expression in a world of technological systems and processes.” Visionary designer Surya Buchwald, aka Momo The Monster, who creates graphics for such artists as deadmau5 and The Glitch Mob, feels that "the future of storytelling is in the flattening of the boundaries between performers and their audience."

The audience reaction is also important to Jasmine Ellsworth, who has produced events for Disney, Comedy Central, and 20th Century Fox: “My favorite part about building an immersive experience is finding the right way to tap into different emotional centers with different tools,” she says. “Is the key in audio? Visual? New technology? Does it support the story? Are we cutting through the clutter of the outside world effectively enough to really connect with our audience —so they don’t say ‘How did they do that,’ but instead say, ‘Wow, did you feel that’?” Or as Sandra Tsing Loh, writer, actress, performance artist, pop-culture analyst, and radio commentator, puts it: “Human beings—they’re ba-a-ack! Viral or not!”

Alex McDowell, the British production designer and film producer who has won awards for his work in Minority Report and The Terminal, feels that content is the key: “The disciplines we touch when we work are becoming inextricably linked, but crucially it is clear that the engine that drives us towards the horizon continues to be content,” he asserts. “Like noisy kids in the back seat, storytelling, narrative design, and the worlds we build make demands of technology that ultimately determine its course."

Yet technology continues to evolve at breakneck speed, influencing the way audiences see and digest content. "New tools for storytelling are constantly being developed,” agrees E.M. Gimenez, a cutting-edge sound designer whose recent work includes the site-specific opera Invisible Cities at Union Station in Los Angeles. “The problem lies in the fact that those tools aren't created for storytelling but for some other application... Our job is to identify those emerging technologies and synthesize the experiences that will shape the future."

An intelligent use of technology also rings true for Peter Schneider, film and theatrical producer/director, who produced the Tony Award-winning The Lion King on Broadway. “New technologies provide us with explosive new ways to amplify and diversify theatrical storytelling,” he notes. “They offer opportunities to reinforce the variety and intensity of emotions and to revolutionize the means through which live connections can be made. The challenge is to use sophisticated technologies to enhance the work and still make it feel raw and urgently unplanned.”

Technology then should be at the service of content and storytelling. Bora Yoon, composer, vocalist, and sound artist who explores the connection of sound to the subliminal, agrees that the story is the anchor of any entertainment experience: “We are living in an increasingly visual age…entertainment and performance will become more and more multisensory—and bridge the language of interactivity and experience— but it will never get away from the anchor of storytelling,” she says. “Meaningful exchange, illuminating truth, and creating connections -- will always remain the main motivation behind entertainment and performance, no matter what technology or tools are used.”

For some the future is not all that clear, but they will be on hand to join in the discussion: “I don't know what is next in storytelling but I can tell you a few things about what I have been doing!” says Neal Stephenson, the internationally best-selling author and game designer known for his works of speculative fiction and post cyberpunk—who better to decode the DNA of storytelling?

“Whatever the digital wizardry we utilize, storytelling will always be about the ooh’s and aah’s, not the 0’s and 1’s,” adds Guber. “Regardless of the delivery mechanism or the form, the DNA of successful narrative bonds information to emotion making it resonant, memorable, and actionable."

Register Today: Help Decode The DNA Of Storytelling, Design, and Technology

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Boing Boing Happy Mutant Mobile, unveiled!

This post is brought to you by Ford.

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Boing Boing's Happy Mutant Mobile delighted onlookers at its unveiling during the recent Maker Faire Bay Area 2014! As we've posted, our sponsors at Ford agreed to support the customization, modification, and transformation of a 2014 Ford Transit Connect Wagon into what we (and you) imagined for a Boing Boing road machine. (Original announcement here and check out all the posts here!)

Theresa Contreras and her talented team at L&G Enterprises in San Dimas, California were the real magicians behind the mods, ranging from a cabinet of curiosities in the back to a lush videoblogging studio inside to a roof-mounted pop-up movie screen!

Thanks to all of you who stopped by to say hi! More photos to come...

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Jameson Stories: Ireland is a magical place

ADVERTISER MESSAGE: As we celebrate with all of our friends who make St. Patrick’s Day great, we raise a glass to Jameson for sponsoring this story.


Crypt under St. Michan's Church, Dublin

Ireland is a magical place. Everyone I met was wonderful and the beautiful terrain and sheer history of the island awed me. From the green countryside around Cork to Dublin's charming model of an ancient city living in modern times, I fell for Ireland over and over.

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Jameson Stories: a fifth generation master cooper and his tools

ADVERTISER MESSAGE: As we celebrate with all of our friends who make St. Patrick’s Day great, we raise a glass to Jameson for sponsoring this story.

Ger Buckley is the master cooper for Jameson. He is a fifth generation cooper and I think oak sap may run in his veins. While I met a number of incredibly dedicated crafts people on site, both at Jameson's Midleton and Dublin's Old Jameson distilleries, Ger is, I think, a role model.

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Jameson Stories: leaving for Ireland

ADVERTISER MESSAGE: As we celebrate with all of our friends who make St. Patrick’s Day great, we raise a glass to Jameson for sponsoring this story.

I'm sitting at my local bar, the Pelican Inn, enjoying a whiskey and remembering the many wonderful experiences I've had in Irish bars around the world. It is the folks behind an Irish bar that make it such a comfortable place. I find them ubiquitous and have for most of my adult life, seeking out the Irish pub as an island of calm and safe normalcy, regardless of where my travels take me.

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Holiday gifts for the budget audiophile

SPONSORED: This post is brought to you by Best Buy.

The sounds and music of the holidays are as much a part of the experience as great food and time with your loved ones. These gifts show the ones you love that you're listening:

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Holiday gifts for the bath!

SPONSORED: The following post is brought to you by Kohler.

Bathroom enhancements for the discerning restroom aficionado with a penchant for high technology, deep geekery, and wet whimsy:

Kohler Moxie Showerhead and Wireless Bluetooth Speaker Music to accompany even the most accomplished shower-singer! This showerhead packs bluetooth connectivity to an embedded speaker!

Crayola Bath Dropz Make bathing a bright and colorful experience, add color to your bath water!

• Adventure Time Fleece Bathrobes Perfect for wearing around the treehouse early in the morning. Wearing one of these, you'll always turn out perfect bacon pancakes.

Fitbit Aria Wi-Fi Smart Scale The Fitbit tracker gives you a wonderful idea of how much energy you burn. This wifi enabled scale syncs your weight with your activity data and makes fitness 'smarter.'

Temperature Sensitive Color Changing Tiles Touch the tiles to make them change color!

Happy holidays!

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The Velvet Underground: White Light/White Heat 45th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition

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"No one listened to it. But there it is, forever – the quintessence of articulated punk. And no one goes near it." - Lou Reed, August 2013

“Cited by nearly every group in punk's long lineage and by more than a few arty types, the Velvets defined New York rock, poised between street-level grit and literary irony, rock simplicity and minimalistic drones, clarity and noise.”– The New York Times

The Velvet Underground’s White Light/White Heat is one of the most confrontational and inspirational second albums ever made by a rock band.

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Sponsor shout-out: American Apparel and classic calculator watches!

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Special thanks to our longtime sponsor American Apparel where you can now find a fantastic range of eclectic watches, from vintage Swatch to Citizen to these killer classic calculator models by Casio! American Apparel

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Holiday gifts for the kitchen!

SPONSORED: This post is brought to you by Best Buy.

Every holiday, someone spends a lot of time in the kitchen preparing all the amazing things we eat. These gifts are handpicked by us to help make spending time in the kitchen a little more joyful:

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A conversation with Terry Pratchett, author of The Carpet People

Carpet People dof34Deep among the Carpet fronds, where the wild snargs prowl, the Munrung tribe has known peace for decades. But now the old order is unraveling, and a new story is in the making. A story of Fray, sweeping a trail of destruction; of villainous mouls, hungry for power; and of two noble brothers on the adventure of a lifetime.

It’s a story that will come to a terrible end—if someone doesn’t do something about it. If everyone doesn’t do something about it . . .

This special edition of Sir Terry Pratchett’s hilarious and wise first novel The Carpet People features his own illustrations, including never-before- published art, and revised text. Also included is an exclusive short story written by Terry at age seventeen, before he went on to create the phenomenally popular Discworld series and become one of the world’s most beloved storytellers.

Cory Doctorow and the famed author discuss building worlds, the legitimacy of authority, and the future:

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Boing Boing launches model rockets at NASA Ames

SPONSORED: This post is presented by the Toyota RAV4 EV. Because innovation can be measured in miles, kilowatts and cubic feet. Learn more at toyota.com/rav4ev

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When asked what we are here for, Beat writer William S. Burroughs famously answered, "This is the space age, and we are here to go." We can't easily grab a seat to orbit but model rocketry is an excellent space age maker hobby that's stood the test of time. For a good time, call the LUNAR hotline! LUNAR is the Livermore Unit of the National Association of Rocketry, the northern California hub for model rocketry enthusiasts. Every month, LUNAR hosts a legal "sport launch" at NASA's Ames Research Center on the Moffett Federal Airfield in Silicon Valley. Everyone is invited to bring their model rockets, engines, and get ready for lift-off! It's a wonderful, supportive scene for new and old rocket buffs and families. One recent weekend, our sponsor Toyota loaned us a Toyota RAV4 EV and we decided the LUNAR launch was the perfect destination for a new electric car. And we're counting down...

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Tyler Capps: Boing Boing Wake Up Cake recipe!

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Tyler Capps is a chef from the Internet. His 2AM Chili recipe blew up on Reddit back in 2011. Then his comical recipe comic for The Bananarama did too. So Tyler launched Cooking Comically where he posts illustrated HOWTOs for Hobo Pies, Trustfall Chicken, Happy Little Hash Browns, and dozens of other noms. Tyler has just published an excellent new cookbook too, titled, what else, "Cooking Comically: Recipes So Easy You'll Actually Make Them." When we asked Tyler to create a recipe for Boing Boing, our only request was that he base it on one key ingredient, caffeine. That was enough stimulation for Tyler to come up with a magical formula for… Wake Up Cake! Here's the recipe:

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The silent mystery of LADWP's buildings

SPONSORED: This post is presented by the Toyota RAV4 EV. Because innovation can be measured in miles, kilowatts and cubic feet. Learn more at toyota.com/rav4ev

In 1940 writer Henry Miller returned to the United States after living in Europe for many years. Soon after, he embarked on a fresh-eyed tour of his native land, writing about what he'd encountered and experienced. His account was published in his 1945 book, The Air-Conditioned Nightmare. One of the most memorable sentences from the book was his opinion of Los Angeles. He wrote, "Los Angeles gives one the feeling of the future more strongly than any city I know of. A bad future, too, like something out of Fritz Lang’s feeble imagination."

I agree with Miller, except I'd replace "bad" with "fascinating," and "feeble" with "fabulous."

When our sponsor Toyota loaned me a 2014 RAV4 Electric vehicle, I thought it would be interesting to visit the power receiving and distributing stations of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, which are hiding in plain sight all over the city. Most were built in the 1920s and the architecture reminds me of the art deco style of Fritz Lang's 1927 masterpiece, Metropolis, a science fiction movie that explores the concept of power in a literal and metaphorical sense. And since the RAV4 Electric was getting its juice from the LADWP, an idea for a photo gallery tickled my feeble imagination. I made a map route, grabbed my camera, unplugged the vehicle (with 93 miles of range in the batteries), and drove into a previous century. (It didn't take long, either, because the acceleration is impressive.) My photos and notes are below.

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For the bathroom: Bluetooth showerhead, color-changing tiles, and more!

SPONSORED: The following post is brought to you by Kohler.


Bathroom enhancements for the discerning restroom aficionado with a penchant for high technology, deep geekery, and wet whimsy:

Kohler Moxie Showerhead and Wireless Bluetooth Speaker

Crayola Bath Dropz

• Adventure Time Fleece Bathrobes

Fitbit Aria Wi-Fi Smart Scale

Temperature Sensitive Color Changing Tiles

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My 10-year-old's first concert: Katy Perry at the Hollywood Bowl

Last week I took my wife, daughter (10), and niece (10) to the Katy Perry concert at The Hollywood Bowl. The proceeds for the concert were given to the Young Survival Coalition, which "offers resources, connections and outreach to young women who are diagnosed with breast cancer.” Boing Boing's sponsors, Citibank, gave us the same experience that Citi ThankYou card holders got: seats to the soundcheck and Q&A with Katy Perry and a pre-show party with food and drinks. We had a blast! Below, some of my tweets, G+ posts, and Instagrams of the evening.

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It’s Survival of the Fittest on Samsung’s “SOS Island”

Sponsored post: Brought to you by Samsung SOS Island. Click here to learn more

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Can you really survive on a deserted island with only your smartphone? The 16 contestants on Samsung’s interactive, online, live-stream reality series “SOS Island: Survival of the Smartest” have been giving it their best shot – and they’ve got the awesome footage to prove it! Trained by survival expert Les Stroud to compete on a deserted island for two weeks, the adventurers have been performing Herculean tasks and recording their efforts on Samsung GALAXY S4 zoom and GALAXY NX Cameras.

The candidates have come so far already, even if they really had no idea what they’d be in for. Take a look…

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Revolutionary classics in domestic tech

Sponsored post: This post is brought to you by Best Buy. To learn more and find great deals on small appliances that do big things, visit BestBuy.com/DoBigThings.


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As a rule, home appliances aren't thrilling. The public isn't interested in hearing about incremental innovations, and the only time folks dig into the tech specs and reviews is when they need a new coffee maker, washing machine, dishwasher, or vacuum cleaner. And when you need one of those things, you need it NOW. And then you won't think about that product category until your current model becomes irreparable. Occasionally though, design and ingenuity intersect in a way that fuels domestic dreams of a Jetsons future. Here are two recent darlings of geek home gadgetry that are available at – where else – the store with the most tech expertise and know-how, Best Buy:

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Ford Transit modded into mobile library

This post is sponsored by the Ford Transit Connect.

As regular Boing Boing readers know, we are all big library geeks. Nothing beats browsing rows and rows of books where you can take anything that tickles your fancy home with you to read... free! That's why we loved the story of the Batram Trail Regional Library bookmobile, a transformed Ford Transit Connect that replaces the library's 30-year-old vehicle. When the bookmobile and its dedicated librarians visit children's schools, the little ones climb inside while the bigger kids browse their own shelf exposed by opening the Transit Connect's sliding door. If the Batram Trail Regional Library bookmobile isn't parked at pre-K facilities, daycares, and special needs schools, it's likely on its way to a nursing home or making housecalls to homebound readers. Georgia's history of bookmobiles goes back to the Great Depression when custom pick-up trucks piled with books were driven from county to county. Times have changed, but the mission to bring books to everyone remains the same.

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Woodworker mods Ford Transit into camper van

This post is sponsored by the Ford Transit Connect.

When talented woodworker Eric Cournoyer isn't immersed in sawdust, you'll likely find him amongst the trees in their more natural state. An avid outdoorsman, Eric frequently mountain bikes the back trails around his home of Worcester, MA.. After seeing a friend's traditional camper van, Eric was inspired to create his own handcrafted custom camper that would double as his daily driver. The Ford Transit Connect proved to be the perfect platform for Eric to remake into a mobile base camp. His approach? Fine carpentry expressed through a modular box system that's easily reconfigurable for quick trips from his city's streets into the surrounding wilderness.

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OpenXC provides car data for cool hacks

[Video Link] OpenXC is our partner Ford's open-source platform that connects smart phones and tablets to real-time vehicle data. Boing Boing and Ford provided access to the platform (along with simulated and real vehicle data) to teams of invited hackers at the Boing Boing Ingenuity: Data Driven hack day on Saturday, August 17, 2013.

We were blown away by the hackers' imaginative uses of OpenXC in their 8-hour projects. We saw a watercolor robot, a music composition system, an animated back window display, a cost-of-driving meter, and other projects that responded to OpenXC's car data. (You can see videos of Data Driven award winners here.)

In the video above, Ford Research Lab Leader TJ Giuli describes how the OpenXC real-time data platform is enabling people to develop their own user experiences. As he said in this interview, "By making OpenXC open source, developers, researchers and DIYers can have an unprecedented level of access to their vehicle and by contributing source or designs back to the OpenXC project, they become co-creators with us at Ford."

Boing Boing: Ingenuity in partnership with Ford C-Max.

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Tour de Fat hits Fort Collins

This post is brought to you by Fat Tire. Pairs Well With People.

There's not a lot that can prepare you for what a beer festival with 25,000 costumed bicycle riders looks like: think of the craziest marathon you ever saw, then add everything from 1980s-vintage BMXs to reproduction Penny Farthings. Then add beer.

Fort Collins' leg of the Tour De Fat began with all this on parade, exorted by mayor Karen Weitkunat to take care as they chocked the streets of the Colorado town.

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Join Rob at the Tour de Fat on August 31 in Fort Collins, CO

Sponsor message: This post is brought to you by Fat Tire. Pairs Well With People.

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In two weeks, our own Rob Beschizza will be headed to the Fort Collins leg of the 14th annual Tour de Fat, the all-ages festival series put on by our sponsor New Belgium Brewing, maker of Fat Tire Amber Ale.

It begins on Saturday, August 31, with a bicycle parade through the streets of Fort Collins, Colorado—a ride that traditionally features all sorts of colorful costumes. Then everyone heads to Civic Center Park, where Reggie Watts, He’s My Brother She’s My Sister, Fierce Bad Rabbit, Dragondeer and others will put on a show for 20,000 attendees.

The brewery's flagship Fat Tire will be at the show, along with summer seasonal Rolle Bolle and other selections. This doesn't just make the locals happy: the Tour raised $79,000 last year for local non-profits.

Admission to the park is free of charge, parade attendees can donate $5, if they please, and the beer is $5 a pint.

For more on the full 12-city tour, the Tour de Fat credo, and the chance to swap your car for a "fancy new bicycle," visit facebook.com/TourDeFat

TL;DR: Rob is paid to drink beer.

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Boing Boing Ingenuity: A look at Ford's OpenXC real-time data platform

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On August 17-18, 2013 in San Francisco, Boing Boing is hosting its first ever large-scale live event, called Boing Boing: Ingenuity, in partnership with Ford C-Max. The invitation-only extravaganza starts with a hack day on Saturday (8/17) and will continue on Sunday (8/18) with a mind-bending theatrical experience of presentations, performances, oddities, and wonder! (Read David's post about the hack day here.)

On Saturday, the hacker teams will be given the opportunity to use OpenXC, Ford's open-source platform that connects smart phones and tablets to real-time vehicle data, in their projects. Indeed, the theme of the hack day is "Data Driven." To learn more about OpenXC, we spoke to Ford Research Lab Leader TJ Giuli.

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My week with the 2013 Toyota RAV4 EV

SPONSORED: This post is presented by the Toyota RAV4 EV. Because innovation can be measured in miles, kilowatts and cubic feet. Learn more at toyota.com/rav4ev.

Last week our sponsor Toyota delivered a 2013 Toyota RAV4 EV to my house so I could drive it for a week. As soon as the friendly fellow who dropped it off went away, I jumped in and drove it around town. The first thing I noticed was how, in many ways, the 5-passenger RAV4 EV felt like a traditional gasoline-powered car. And that's a good thing.

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