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We're suing the Justice Department over FBI’s secret rules for using National Security Letters on journalists


Freedom of the Press Foundation this week filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Justice Department over their unpublished rules for using National Security Letters and so-called informal “exigent letters” to conduct surveillance of journalists.

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WWII slang from the front

As seen in War Slang: American Fighting Words & Phrases Since the Civil War: "Royal Order of Whale Bangers. An 'exclusive' club open only to airmen who have mistakenly dropped depth charges on whales, supposing them to be enemy submarines."

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Where to get that “Bruce Lee as a DJ” t-shirt Tony Stark wore in “Avengers”


Robert Downey wore it well as Tony Stark in “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” and you will, too.

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"The Computer Girls," 1967 Cosmopolitan magazine article on women working with technology


"The Computer Girls," a 1967 Cosmopolitan piece about a weird new field, programming, that was dominated by women.

Previously: Miniskirts and Mainframes.

[via Clive Thompson]

Whoa, someone replicated the spooky hallway from P.T. in Unity


In just one year since its launch, P.T.—a short but haunting "playable teaser"—has gained a sort of cult status among video game fans. It's a snippet of possibility, a flicker of potential for a Hideo Kojima-directed Silent Hill game we now know will certainly never exist (read my reflections on the series here).

The game is set in a single atmospheric hallway that loops, twisting the player's sense of reality (this excellent P.T. critique will give you the idea). I thought P.T. was so scary that I had to hand the controller off to someone else to finish. But when our friend played through it, none of the experiences I'd had occurred for him; it's opaque and capricious, and has launched dozens of wild fan theories.

Since the cancellation of Silent Hills, P.T. is no longer available on the PlayStation Store. But if you never got to see it for yourself, Calgary-based aspiring game developer Farhan Qureshi has meticulously modeled and recreated P.T's hallway using the low-impact Unity tool. It's an amazing technical achievement, and a chance for some edition of that iconic space to exist in a fashion everyone can visit.

Actual "PuniTy" screenshot

Actual "PuniTy" screenshot

"I started this project for a 3D modelling workshop I'm teaching for a game developer group here in Calgary," he writes. "At first I just wanted to make the P.T. hallway, then started adding sounds and...other things out of obsession. In total I've spent about 104 hours over four weeks making this, and I'm happy / burnt out enough to stop here."

His attention to detail and sound makes it feel almost exactly like you're playing the original game. For those who are interested in tools themselves, Qureshi, who hopes to find a job in game development, has an extensive post on how he replicated the hallway here.

Download "PuniTy" for free here.

Want to design a room escape game?

Room escape games are all the rage these days—you know, you and a small team of friends get locked in a venue full of puzzles, clues or objects to assemble, disassemble and decode so that you can get out. Apparently Sweden has had real-life secret puzzle castles going for 20 years; here in London, my friend Pip tried a room escape that involved some kind of hint master scolding her through a screen. Recently I was in Belgium and some friends and I were looking for a place to have dinner and we passed a room escape venue on the way, just like you'd pass a convenience store. These things are everywhere now, even in Budapest bars, as you can see from the video above.

As a design form, though, room escapes are having some growing pains, from what I understand. It seems it's actually very challenging to create a series of nesting, escalating physical challenges that interlink, that offer the players the chance to feel smart and successful, but never to feel hopelessly stuck. You have to differentiate between relevant and irrelevant objects—subtly, so it's not like you stick a post-it on every clue, but not so subtly that the players start ripping the actual paneling off the walls in search of secrets. Your storytelling has to be entirely self-contained, so that players never feel confused or that something is missing.

An escape game in Montreal [via Reality is a Game]

An escape game in Montreal [via Reality is a Game]

Designer Adam Clare has written a cool piece on frequently-asked questions and best practices in the design of room escape games that help illuminate some of these considerations. It's neat to think about for anyone interested in this growing trend, and at the very least it will help you with some basic tips before you try locking your friend in her closet for her birthday.

Happy Sysadmin Day, Ken!

Thank you -- as always and forever -- to Ken Snider, Boing Boing's astounding sysadmin. We celebrate you every day, but especially today: Sysadmin Appreciation Day.

You don't really know someone until you steal their sketchbook

Check out the amazing spare-time artwork of Aude LisingRead the rest

Low-light filming is about to make a big leap forward

The low-light footage above is about 400,000 ISO. Imagine 4 million ISO, and you'll have a good idea of the newly-announced Canon ME20F-SH that indie filmmakers, wildlife documentarians, and investigative journalists are all discussing this week.

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WATCH: model plane + box kite + LEDs = glow kite

FliteTest tracked down a father-son team who spent five years perfecting their remote-controlled box kite prototype, a plane/kite mashup. They demonstrate two of them below:

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Allow this gorgeous film to remind you you're dreaming right now

End your week right with a moment of clarity. Aaron Paradox dreamt this hypnotic animation accompanied by voices of Bear Vasquez and Alan Watts and set to The Way by Zack Hemsey.

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Landscape astrophotography highlights stars in stunning locales


This gorgeous vertical starscape taken near Death Valley by f1p4 is one of many examples of Reddit's landscape astrophotography group. Earthporn meets starporn!

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German prosecutors give spies a walk, but investigate journalists for "treason"

The German prosecutors who dropped all action against the US and UK spy-agencies who trampled German law and put the whole nation, up to and including Chancellor Angela Merkel, under surveillance, have decided instead to open an investigation into the bloggers at Netzpolitik, who revealed the wrongdoing.

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Going to DEFCON? EFF's got your back

The Electronic Frontier Foundation always has a huge presence at Las Vegas's DEFCON, but this year, we're hosting our first-ever badge-hack contest!

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Ex-GOOG diversity boss promised "UK's 1st women's history museum," built a Jack the Ripper "museum"

Former Google diversity officer Mark Palmer-Edgecumbe promised the Tower Hamlets council "the first women’s museum in the UK" if they would approve a zoning change that let him add three storeys and an extra floor, but what he built was a Jack the Ripper "museum."

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When online security is literally a roll of the dice, which dice do you use?

My search for an easy way to generate strong passwords and passphrases led me to the "Diceware" method Cory wrote about on Boing Boing. This was no game. I needed serious dice.Read the rest