Boing Boing 

Drones based on birds

Once again, engineers are taking cues from nature to build the next generation of robotics, in this case drones inspired by birds.

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This Horse Raised By Spheres

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A beautiful and weird interactive art site.

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Barrett Brown: “If anyone needs me, I'll be in prison.”

Barrett Brown. Photo: Nikki Loehr.


Barrett Brown. Photo: Nikki Loehr.

“In addition to improvising a few extra lines in the course of my allocution that were not present in the written version, I didn’t deliver the line 'I think your Honor can walk and chew bubble gum at the same time,” writes Barrett Brown in an open letter to an editor at Dallas Magazine. Brown is a native of Texas, and his sentencing took place last week in a Dallas courtroom.

“I took that out because, by the time I delivered the allocution, it had become painfully obvious that he could do no such thing,” Brown writes.

“Frankly, I am not going to lie in court unless I am getting paid whatever these FBI agents are getting paid.”

Barrett Brown has been in prison since September 2012. On January 22, the security journalist was sentenced to a total of 63 months in prison, and ordered to pay $890,000 in "restitution."

"The Barrett Brown Review of Arts and Letters and Jail: If Anyone Needs Me, I’ll Be in Prison" [D magazine]

Previously on Boing Boing: "Barrett Brown’s sentence is unjust, but it may become the norm for journalists"

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Relax! Calm app and website are here to reduce your stress

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Negativity-reducing website calm.com offers guided relaxation breaks of 2 to 20 minutes. They also have a free smartphone app to help you meditate, sleep, or relax wherever you are.

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Testing subliminal advertising (again)

As part of a BBC Radio 4 documentary, producer Phil Tinline looks at the controversial and weird history of subliminal advertising, and with social psychologists devises an experiment to test its efficacy.

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Drone crashes at White House, exposing security weakness. This is why we can't have nice UAVs.

Quadcopter that crashed on the White House lawn. Photo via US Secret Service, via Jim Acosta's Twitter.


Quadcopter that crashed on the White House lawn. Photo via US Secret Service, via Jim Acosta's Twitter.

A recreational quadcopter flew over the White House lawn on Monday, exposing a security weakness at the compound that the Secret Service has spent years and many of our dollars studying--without arriving at a solution.

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Jiz Lee on "Ethical Porn"

"Ethical porn" starts with porn that you pay for, says Jiz Lee.

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Watch this next-gen thermal camera attachment for smartphones

Looking at the world in Predator-vision will get easier later this year thanks to consumer-grade forward-looking infrared (FLIR). The same tech used to find the Boston bombing suspect can be used to find a lost dog at night or to check your house for thermal leaks.

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Video proves this cat to be insane

Insane, or insanely cute? 7 pounds of adorable.

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Video: How footballs are made

I found this video about how footballs are made, and a woman who worked in the Wilson Sporting Goods factory for 50 years, to be more interesting than most football games I've watched.

Beautiful black and red variegated 78 records from the 1920s

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Portland area archivist Cliff Bolling has curated and digitized thousands of 78 records. One prized addition is this variegated series from Pathé's Chanticleer line. Bolling says this was an attempt by the French company to gain market share in the US. The series featured popular American songs, like this version of "Bye Bye Blackbird." by The Virginia Creepers.

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Time's Edge (The Chronos Files Book 2)

Time's Edge (The Chronos Files Book 2)

Rarely do I dive right into the second book in a series, but I couldn't wait to start Rysa Walker's second time travel adventure: Time's Edge.

Picking up right where Timebound left off, Time's Edge feels like a seamless extension. Kate is off collecting the time travel enabling medallions from lost CHRONOS agents while Prudence and Saul could not care less. Could it be that Kate doesn't really know whats going on?

Appropriately, Time's Edge reads like the second novel in a series, and occasionally some development does feel forced, but I tore through this novel. With the technology and physics of her universe well set up in the first novel, Walker successfully sets out to develop her characters and the plot. I could have done with a bit more of the present time storyline, but honestly maybe her focus on other events will pay off (alternate time line Trey is a doofus.)

I'm looking forward to the next installment. For the brave souls amongst us: I've been told that there is a metric ton of Chronos Files fan fiction in Kindle Worlds.

Time's Edge (The Chronos Files Book 2)

Watch a gentleman ride his craptacular gas-powered horse

Is this the worst mechanical horse of all time? Chinese farmer Su Daocheng built it to plow his fields and also says he built a homemade helicopter. Probably best to decline rides in both vehicles. At least the head looks nice. He also makes cool mechanical sculptures in his spare time, like this:

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Schoolly D: Inventor of Gangster Rap

This week’s Hip Hop Family Tree covers Gangster Boogie by Schoolly D, an influential artist who inspired the west coast direction spearheaded by Ice T and NWA.

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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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Scientific American and fansubbers help video spread in Hungary

Dean from Amara writes, "Editors at Scientific American noticed they were getting a TON of hits on the video What Happens to Your Body after You Die? To their surprise, the majority of the views were originating in Hungary."

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Photo: “Cyborgia“

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Larger size here.

From the Boing Boing Flickr Pool, shot and shared by reader John K. Goodman.

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Watch the awesome way one Rhode Island school told students it was closed for snow day

This unbelievably awesome musical message came from the principal at Moses Brown School, an independent, college-prep, Quaker day school in Providence, Rhode Island, for girls and boys in nursery through grade 12.

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America's war on leaks has gone way too far when journalists' emails spied upon

The exterior of the U.S. Department of Justice headquarters building in Washington. Photo: Reuters.


The exterior of the U.S. Department of Justice headquarters building in Washington. Photo: Reuters.

The U.S. government’s demands for the private emails of WikiLeaks staffers is outrageous, Trevor Timm writes in the Guardian. And not liking Julian Assange is a poor reason for any of us who care about press freedom to stay silent.

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“You Shall Not Pass” area rug

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By designer Jeremy Bingham, a very funny area rug in various sizes, starting at $28.

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GHCQ and David Cameron hoaxed by prank caller high on "booze and cocaine"

The Government Communications Headquarters in Britain. Image: GHCQ/British Ministry of Defence


The Government Communications Headquarters in Britain. Image: GHCQ/British Ministry of Defence

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British officials acknowledged on Monday that a prank caller managed to social-engineer the private cell number for a top GHCQ intel chief, and phoned the prime minister in his name.

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Game of Thrones board game offers diplomacy, intrigue, and betrayal

Fans looking to get their off-season fix could do worse than setting aside a snowy Saturday for A Game of Thrones: The Board Game

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Koch brothers raise 2016 election warchest that's on par with either party's spend

The Kochs will raise $889M from conservative millionaires and billionaires to spend in the 2016 election, which, thanks to Citizens United, can be used to buy effectively unlimited political advertising to support policies that will make more money for the donors.

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Gitmo prisoner who published critically-acclaimed memoir won't be allowed to read his own book at Gitmo

Mohamedou Ould Slahi.


Mohamedou Ould Slahi.

A detainee at Guantanamo who recently published a critically acclaimed book on his life in captivity will not have the opportunity to read his own book, and neither will 121 of his fellow inmates.

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NSA-themed art


This lovely piece of NSA-surveillance-themed art comes from Anthony Freda, previously featured here for his Normal Rockwell/Ferguson piece.

(Thanks, Hugh and Anthony!)

Tiny kitchen-knife sharpener does the trick

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The Kitchen IQ Edge Grip 2-Stage Knife Sharpener set me back $6 but it was worth it.

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Hands-free workbench magnification

This is a 5-inch diameter magnifying glass mounted on a swing arm, and the assembly has a vice clamp to mount itself to the edge of a table or desk.

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SF/F writers: apply now for Clarion and Clarion West

Applications are open for both the Clarion Writing Workshop at UC San Diego and the Clarion west workshop in Seattle, a pair of legendary, six-week intensive instructional summer workshops for aspiring science fiction and fantasy writers.

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Robot snowplow from Japan eats up snow, poops out bricks

Yuki-taro is known in this part of Japan as the friendly snowbot.

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CIA whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling convicted of espionage in NYT leak case

Jeffrey Sterling.


Jeffrey Sterling.

Former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling has been convicted of all 9 counts in a case that charged him with leaking classified information about a failed operation to thwart Iran's nuclear ambitions to New York Times reporter James Risen.

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