Boing Boing 

35 Secret hiding places in your home

Family Handyman home security

Ordinarily, the folks over at Family Handyman Magazine are a straight-laced bunch, but their slideshow 20 Secret Hiding Places shows that their practical creativity might be hiding something, such as fat stacks of cash.

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How a small art team created Firewatch's beautiful environment

San Francisco-based Campo Santo is an indie studio currently at work on Firewatch, a visually-evocative game about being a volunteer fire lookout in the wilderness of Wyoming, with a handheld radio and a mysterious supervisor your only companion.

Recently at the Game Developer's Conference, the team's Jane Ng gave a fascinating talk about creating the game's art -- layers of burnished color, stark vivid shapes, long shadows and the lonely outlines of endless pines create a poignant image of a world that invites the player. Ng's talk is remarkably accessible for anyone even a little bit interested in visual design. I found it interesting to watch and soothing to listen to, and my artistic ability stopped developing after the school notebook anime characters of yesteryear.

I'm friends with a couple of the people on the Firewatch team -- we play board games and Netrunner sometimes -- but I haven't even seen anything of their game yet, so I have no special interest in whether you watch this lovely art talk or not. I just thought you'd like it, that's all.

How to turn a chocolate bar into a puzzle game

Puzzle games aren't just something you play on consoles, computers and smartphones. They're also something you can play with a chocolate bar.

Next time you're hanging out with your friends, invite them to take the Infinite Chocolate Bar Challenge: try to remove one rectangle or square from a bar of chocolate, and end up with a bar that looks like nothing's missing.

I've seen it work on delicious, segmented chocolate of various sizes, but it definitely works on a regular old Hershey's bar. For the math-oriented among us, here's a more geometric explanation of the solution:

What happens when you don't let players pick their race?


Plenty of people play games to escape their real lives, and the character creators some games offer let us imagine ourselves in whatever image we'd like: realistic or idealized, some version of ourselves. Or someone entirely other -- not just a chance to invent your very own fantasy character, but to live as them, in a sense.

I know a couple where one partner always builds one edition of the other in any game they play that allows for character selection. Isn't that romantic?

I'm also intrigued by the idea a game might take that choice away from me -- where every player has a different avatar, but it's not up to us. Like being born, almost, where we can't choose how we enter the world. Not everyone feels that way, apparently. My colleague Nathan Grayson has just covered the fascinating situation of Rust, where some players are upset to have lost control over their race.

Rust is a popular multiplayer game about surviving in chaos -- I don't play it myself, but my friends tell me haunting stories about scrabbling for resources, fearing one another in the dark. Now, thanks to a recent update, player appearances will be randomized, in order to create a diverse and natural look to the world, and also to make individual players more distinct from one another.

The avatar's physical features will be tied to players' IDs on Steam, the service they use to play Rust, so it'd take a disproportionate effort to attempt to get a new look. Reactions have been mixed, project lead Garry Newman told Grayson -- although apparently most players embrace the interesting change and band together against those who are so against playing with a different skin color that they'd raise problems:

"It makes me wish I'd set up some analytics to record how many times the N-word was used before and after the update," Newman said. "It was used quite a bit from what I've seen." Newman and the rest of the Rust team considered taking action against people who throw around racist language like so many sticks and stones, but then they observed an interesting trend: "We debated internally whether to start censoring it, whether as the curators of the game we should be stepping in," he explained. "What we found was that when someone was being racist they were always in the minority and more often than not the other members of the server stepped in and took action (i.e. they all worked together to hunt him)."
Grayson's reporting appears on Kotaku's channel devoted to issues facing the Steam userbase, itself an interesting area of focus as the platform and community of choice for most computer players (myself included). Also on Offworld: Tanya D. looks at how people of color are represented in the Dragon Age universe.

Virtual reality creator hopes to treat anxiety attacks

New methods for treating anxiety, trauma and mental illness are emerging at the intersection of games and therapyRead the rest

As crypto wars begin, FBI silently removes sensible advice to encrypt your devices

The FBI used to publish excellent advice about encrypting your devices to keep your data secure when your stuff is lost or stolen; this advice has been silently dropped now that FBI Director James Comey is trying to stop manufacturers from using crypto by default.

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Humorless man explains that rock music, even Christian rock, is full of witchcraft

An important warning about blasphemy and Satanic messages in rock music.

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In photos: Explosion in NYC's East Village injures at Least 12, building collapses

A residential apartment building in New York's East Village neighborhood collapsed and was engulfed in flames along with a neighboring building today, injuring at least twelve people.Read the rest

Woman medicated in a psychiatric ward until she said Obama didn't follow her on Twitter

Kam Brock's car was seized by the NYPD in a bogus drug bust (they found no drugs, seized it anyway) and then they arrested her because she got upset and took her to a mental hospital. She tried to tell the doc that she was a good person, and cited the (true) fact that Obama followed her on Twitter.

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Chosen: clever (and funny) new talent contest app


Today my old friend David Hyman launched Chosen, a very compelling new talent contest app where you can be both the talent and the judge.

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TPP leak: states give companies the right to repeal nations' laws

A new Wikileaks-published leak from the secretive Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) treaty reveals a January 2015 draft "Investment Chapter" of the agreement, where the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanisms are set out. They allow companies to repeal nations' environmental, health and labor laws.

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Madrid becomes no-kill city


On March 13, Madrid became a no-kill city, making the euthanasia of stray or abandoned animals illegal. That means all animals—even homeless ones—are free to live their lives.

Co-pilot in Germanwings plane crash 'wanted to destroy plane'

Co-pilot Andreas Lubitz, seen in an image from his Facebook page, is reported to have controlled the plane's descent toward crash.

Co-pilot Andreas Lubitz, seen in an image from his Facebook page, is reported to have controlled the plane's descent toward crash.

Officials investigating the crash of the Germanwings flight say the plane's co-pilot, Andreas Lubitz, wanted to "destroy the plane."

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Australia outlaws warrant canaries

The exceptionally broad new surveillance bill lets the government do nearly unlimited warrantless mass surveillance, even of lawyer-client privileged communications, and bans warrant canaries, making it an offense to "disclose information about the existence or non-existence" of a warrant to spy on journalists.

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Games that heal

Making games in Twine has helped one woman cope with pain other methods haven't reached, and connected a community Read the rest

Sandwars: the mafias whose illegal sand mines make whole islands vanish

Singapore's insatiable appetite for sand to use to expand its island's territory has led to a worldwide boom in illegal sand-mining, run by criminal gangs who are responsible for the destruction of entire islands in the Pacific rim.

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Music: "Fudge Pudge," Organized Konfusion (1991)

"So kick off your shoes and don't forget your socks, I wash and wash up emcees like Clorox."

The Backworlds by M. Pax

The Backworlds

I was excited to read The Backworlds by M. Pax. This pulp science fiction style adventure is available free for Kindle!

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Spielberg to direct Ready Player One movie


A film of Ready Player One, Ernest Cline's excellent sci-fi novel about a virtual reality treasure hunt that turns lethal, will be directed by the legendary filmmaker. Deadline reports on his first flick with Warner Bros. in 14 years.

With this news, a question arises about how they will bring a key element of the book’s virtual world to life for the big screen. After all, it seems imperative for the audience to feel like they were dropped into the middle of a video game.

That kind of technology is just becoming available, and if these guys implement that, this could change the face of cinema. The studio has been on the cutting edge of this kind of thing before, pushing the envelope with technology and visual effects with such films as The Lego Movie, Inception and The Matrix – all with great results. If anyone can pull it off again, it will be these guys.

RPO is about a dead VR mogul's fortune, concealed in a vast online world, and the kids desperate--not least because of their real-world poverty or other circumstances--to find it. The contradictions of utopia, reality, virtuality and mundanity are threaded throughout, but it's a fast-paced YA yarn too; read Mark's review for more.

I hope Spielberg shoots some straight-up cinema and skips the lure of extravagant 3D gimmicks, let alone actual VR. It's a timely story, but doesn't need to end up a thing of its time.

Book art:

Video portrait of a guy who quit finance to become dog walker

Matt Hein and his dogs.

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Brain Lapse: beautiful, hand-drawn psychedelic animated short by Jake Fried

“Hand-drawn animation with ink, white-out, coffee and collage.”

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Easy file transfer to and from iPhone


I use the Leef iBridge 16GB for one thing - to watch magic trick instructional videos on my iPhone.

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Fast food packaging redesigned as "artisanal" hipsterchow

Buzzfeed's Dan Meth has remixed the packaging for iconic American junk-food to make it look like the premium organic/handmade/artisanal products marketed to moneyed, design-forward customers.

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Why author Peter V. Brett Empathizes with George R.R. Martin

Veronica Belmont and Tom Merritt tackle the week in science fiction.Read the rest

Stay connected to the Black Lives Matter movement online



A few months ago the Black Lives Matter movement dominated the news cycle as waves of protestors took to the streets following the non-indictments of police officers in the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO and Eric Garner in New York City. And while it may be earning less media coverage now, the movement is still very much alive both in physical spaces and online.

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Terrifying dashcam video captures distracted teen drivers crashing while goofing off

Self-driving cars can't arrive fast enough. Video analysis by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety finds that distraction is a factor in nearly 6 out of 10 moderate-to-severe teen crashes. The foundation says this is four times as many as official estimates based on police reports. In this video, some of those examples captured on in-car dashcams.

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Young readers prefer printed books

A new book called Words Onscreen: The Fate of Reading in a Digital World cites surveys that say that young readers increasingly prefer to read books from paper, not screens.

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Guy hikes 2600 miles of Pacific Crest Trail, takes selfie every mile. Here's the video.

Andy Davidhazy hiked 2600 miles from Mexico to Canada on the Pacific Crest Trail.

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Guy creates video mocking grief of One Direction fans after Zayn Malik quits. CBS airs it as real.

Well played, Ben Burst. Well played.

For those of you who aren't tweens, boy pop band One Direction lost a member yesterday: Zayn Malik. This abrupt breakup hit their fans right in the feels.

[via Reddit]


FBI profiler analyzes how Breaking Bad's Walter White went from chemistry teacher to druglord

In this Vanity Fair video shared by our pal Joe Sabia, FBI vet Candice Delong examines Breaking Bad's Walter White, and how the teacher-turned-king pin justified his crimes.

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