Boing Boing 

Custom Zelda motorcycle helmet art


Ara did a beautiful job decorating redditor phrenetiKz's motorcycle helmet with a monochrome, line-art Zelda motif. There's a wallpaper of the whole thing, too.

Local redditor finished her Zelda artwork on my helmet...AKA my Zelmet

Australian pop-out camper that is full of well-thought-out features

Here's a slow, gentle, fascinating demonstration video for the Wedgetail slide-on camper, "built for rough Australian terrain." It's a pretty amazing feat of engineering, with lots of thoughtful features. But what really gets me is in the money shot where the whole thing opens up like some kind of origami trick. Big things hidden in little things! Hell yeah!

Wedgetail slide on camper demonstration (Thanks, Fipi Lele!)

Vehicular tetris plan foiled by German policeman with tragic lack of imagination


This tetris of vehicles was constructed by a Polish truck driver, who conceived of it as a clever means of transporting several trucks and a car in one go. His plan was foiled by a spoilsport German cop, who made him destack it. I say that if there was a problem with this construction, it was in its lack of ambition: why not a motorcycle atop the car? Why not a bicycle atop the motorcycle? Why not a strapping lad in rollerskates on a pogo-stick bouncing on the bicycle?

On the road, the officers stopped the breakdown field daredevil transport (on the way to Belgium). On the Iveco car carrier (1) there was a large truck (2, on the deck again, a smaller VW MAN truck (3 And on the deck one Mercedes (4)!

Police spokesman Acor Kniely: "This tower contradicted all road traffic legislation. Especially as he to make matters worse the trailer still wanted to charge another truck! "

So was hatte Krefelds Polizei noch nicht gesehen: Hochstapler-Laster gestoppt! - Düsseldorf [Ulrich Altmann/Bild.de/Google Translate] (via Neatorama)

Undistinguished car, cut out


Phil Are Go! has performed another public service by doing a nice cutout of the boxy, undistinguished Toyota Corona, the perfect stock art for any dull automotive piece.

Toyota Corona - Good for the kids.

Humorless Washingtonian thinks GOES211 plate is about penis-length, not Spinal Tap


A man named Johnny Dixon complained to the Washington Personalized License Plate Committee about the Spinal Tap-homage vanity plate GOES211 on Tony Cava's BMW. Dixon thought Cava was boasting about his penis length. The DOL let Cava keep the plate.

A man identifying himself as Johnny Dixon wasn’t thinking “Spinal Tap” when he spotted the plate.

Last October, Dixon emailed the Department of Licensing: “I find it in poor taste that the great state of Washington would issue a plate that allows a driver to insinuate in public that his penis grows to 11 inches in length. The rest of the citizens of Washington should not be subjected to this vulgarity.”

And so the case of GOES211 ended up before something called the DOL’s Personalized License Plate Committee. Bureaucracies like committees, and lists.

...Asked for comment about his complaint, Dixon emailed back, “What exactly is it that you want to know? I find it disturbing that you can access my emails to the DOL.”

Vanity plates: some take too much license [Seattle Times/Erik Lacitis] (Thanks, Marty!)

Steampunky concept motorcyle


This is the creation of Mikhail Smolyanov, whose concept bike designs are, to a one, wonderful to behold. Funnily nostalgic, gloriously impractical, and beautifully rendered.

Solifague Design (via Kadrey)

HOWTO recover your stolen car


From an email sent to author Tyler Cowen by a reader:

Oh, and here’s a tip I hope you never need: if your car is ever stolen, your first calls should be to every cab company in the city. You offer a $50 reward to the driver who finds it AND a $50 reward to the dispatcher on duty when the car is found. The latter is to encourage dispatchers on shift to continually remind drivers of your stolen car. Of course you should call the police too but first things first. There are a lot more cabs than cops so cabbies will find it first -and they’re more frequently going in places cops typically don’t go, like apartment and motel complex parking lots, back alleys etc. Lastly, once the car is found, a swarm of cabs will descend and surround it because cabbies, like anyone else, love excitement and want to catch bad guys. Cabbies know a lot of stuff*. I found a traveling shoplifting ring in Phoenix once. Professional shoplifters always take cabs. So do strippers going to work but that’s another story.

Taxis and the shortest route home (from my email) (via Kottke)

American insurers charge reckless rich drivers less than safe poor drivers

The Consumer Federation of America did a mystery shopper review of several auto insurers and found that drivers with at-fault accidents paid lower premiums than drivers with spotless records -- provided that the careless driver was rich and well-educated and the careful driver was a single renter without an advanced degree.

Using two hypothetical characters the group compared premiums offered to two 30-year-old women. Both had driven for 10 years, lived on the same street in a middle-income Zip code and both wanted the minimum insurance required by whichever state the group was researching.

The imaginary woman who wasn’t married, rented a home, didn’t have coverage for 45 days but has never been in an accident or ticketed with a moving violation was compared to a married executive with a master’s degree who owns her home and has always had continuous insurance coverage. But she’d been in an accident (again, hypothetically) that was her fault and caused $800 in damage within the last three years.

The results were somewhat surprising, although there were differences across the five insurers. Farmers, GEICO and Progressive always gave a higher quote to the safer driver than the woman who’d caused an accident. Across all 12 cities in the study, State Farm offered the lowest or second lowest premiums.

“State insurance regulators should require auto insurers to explain why they believe factors such as education and income are better predictors of losses than are at-fault accidents,” said J. Robert Hunter, CFA’s director of insurance and former Texas insurance

Consumer Group: The Rich May Pay Less For Car Insurance Even If They’re Not Safe Drivers [Consumerist/Mary Beth Quirk]

LARGEST AUTO INSURERS FREQUENTLY CHARGE HIGHER PREMIUMS TO SAFE DRIVERS THAN TO THOSE RESPONSIBLE FOR ACCIDENTS (PDF) [Consumer Federation of America]

The Chariot from Lost in Space: an appreciation

The TV show Lost in Space featured a marvellous, transparent, caterpillar-tread space-rover called "The Chariot," which was adapted from a snow vehicle, but was groovily and spacily modded into something quite wonderful. The company that manufactured it later went on to produce solid rocket boosters for the Space Shuttle, the Mars Pathfinder airbags, and ejector seats:

"The Chariot" was a real, full-sized, fully operational vehicle, both in real-life and in the 1960s' fictional future. It was used to transport the Robinson family, pilot Don West, the robot, and the conniving Dr. Smith to virtually anywhere on whatever planet they would happen to be crash-landed on that week.

The Chariot was filmed on both the studio soundstage and at remote outdoor locations, which gave the show one of its few points of technical credibility. We never saw how the Robinsons stored the vehicle; I always assumed it folded neatly into the belly of the Jupiter II.

Chariot 6 This futuristic "Family Truckster" began life as a Thiokol Snowcat Spryte, powered by a Ford 170-cubic-inch inline-6 with 101 horsepower. It had a 4-speed automatic transmission, plus reverse. I hope there were some alien gas stations along their way, as the stock vehicle got 4-8 miles per gallon and came with a 15-gallon fuel tank. That's a 120-mile range at best.

"The Chariot" from Lost In Space [That Car Guy/Car Lust]

(via Danny's Land)

NYC's new parking signs are great information design


The NYC Department of Transport has revamped its notoriously complex parking-rules signs, so that they're slightly less cryptic. It's a very nice example of good information design!

NYC DOT Commissioner Sadik-Khan, City Council Speaker Quinn and Council Member Garodnick Unveil Newly Designed, Simplified Parking Signs in Midtown (Thanks, Fipi Lele!)

History of cars in cartoons

Amid sez, "In the 1950s and 1960s, as cars became a fixture of contemporary life, animators made all kinds of films about automobile culture, exploring its history, its prevalence within society, its effect on human behavior, as well as its future possibilities and potential consequences. These films didn't merely feature cars as plot devices, but made a satirical commentary on the institutions of driving and vehicle ownership. On Cartoon Brew, I've curated a collection of nine animated shorts that offer a unique window into our relationship with cars during the Golden Age of the automobile."

These films are, of course, mostly valuable as historical markers. Today, as our environmentally-conscious world shifts into a post-auto culture, we worry less and less about the anxieties of driving and car ownership. The contemporary animator views cars through a different prism, one that is most effectively reflected in Pixar’s Cars. John Lasseter’s film no longer questions or considers the idea of the car, but rather offers a wistful nostalgic ode to the golden age of the automobile, a bygone era that can only be glimpsed by looking into the rear-view mirror.

Modern Car-Toons: A Look At Autos In Mid-Century Animation (Thanks, Amid!)

Airplane collides with car

2012 was a terrifying year for Russian dashcam videos, but the badness reaches its peak on Dec 29, with this footage of a plane disintegrating crosswise to busy highway traffic.

Ladies and gentlemen: the 1958 GM line

Pontiac

Carp with vintage car grilles for faces


Bernardo sends us his "Unique sculptural mashup of beautiful Chinese Goldfish and Fabulous American 50's cars as produced by Bernardo. Each piece is handmade and hand painted by the artist."

Carp! by Bernardo (Thanks, Bernardo!)

Ghost Fink: Ghosbusters in a Rat Fink car


Brian Ewing (creator of the Anatomical Frankenstein print) has just posted another fab illustration: Slimer from Ghosbusters riding in an Rat Fink-style rat-racer. It's called "Rat Fink" -- there's a limited run of 100 screen prints at $50 each.

Ghost Fink (Thanks, Brian!)

Library gift-shop, on wheels, in LA

Katie from the Library Foundation of Los Angeles sez, "The Library Store On Wheels, a mobile truck version of the Library Foundation of Los Angeles' beloved Central Library gift store (which LA Weekly named 'LA's Best Gift Shop'this year) hits the road December 10. Over the next two weeks, we'll be taking the mobile store around to different Los Angeles Public Library branches, as well as Amoeba Music. Packed to the gills with the most lovingly-curated selection of lit-themed gifts and nostalgic library decor, all proceeds from the store will go to benefit the Los Angeles Public Library."

Google’s driver-less cars and robot morality

In the New Yorker, an essay by Gary Marcus on the ethical and legal implications of Google's driver-less cars which argues that these automated vehicles "usher in the era in which it will no longer be optional for machines to have ethical systems."

Marcus writes,

Your car is speeding along a bridge at fifty miles per hour when errant school bus carrying forty innocent children crosses its path. Should your car swerve, possibly risking the life of its owner (you), in order to save the children, or keep going, putting all forty kids at risk? If the decision must be made in milliseconds, the computer will have to make the call.

Popemobile available for rent: stags, hen nights, and photo-ops

The 1979 Irish Popemobile, an armoured car designed to exhibit the Pope on his visit, has been through a €60,000 makeover, and is now available for private hire:

According to a promotional pack, the vehicle has 15 seats, including the original “pope’s chair”. Mr Dunning plans to charge up to €300 an hour plus VAT for use of it .

He said the chair used by the pope was kept in his mother’s home in Greenhills, Dublin, while the vehicle’s makeover was completed.

“Nuns over from Rome were in my mother’s house to see it,” he said.

The promotional pack lists a number of possible uses, including “hen and stag [nights], debs and photo calls”.

Debs, hens and stags to make holy show of Popemobile [Irish Times] (via Memex 1.1)

(Image: Irish Times)

George Barris, the 87-year-old king of "kar kustomizers," profiled in LA Times

For 70 years George Barris has been "taking ordinary vehicles and mutating them into hell-for-leather roadsters," many of which are now part of automotive history.

"Others have been immortalized on television and in the movies," writes W.J. Hennigan in the Los Angeles Times.

"He turned a 1955 Ford Lincoln Futura into the Batmobile. He stretched out a Model T body and, with a few tweaks, made it into the ghastly vehicle that the Munsters drove in the TV show."

There's a video, too (non-embeddable).

DC pulls in a record-setting $85M from traffic cams

A little followup to yesterday's post about NoPhoto, an Indiegogo fundraiser for a flash that confounds red-light cameras: the city of Washington, DC has smashed its previous record-setting rake on its traffic cameras, pulling in $85 million in its fiscal 2012. Alan Blinder writes more in the Washington Examiner, discussing whether the city has come to think of its traffic cams as cash-cows:

"This year, we'll have more revenue than ever and more citations than ever before," said John Townsend, of AAA Mid-Atlantic. "They're closing holes in the budget."

Ward 6 Councilman Tommy Wells, a sponsor of the proposal to lower fines, leveled a similar accusation.

"The administration and some of my colleagues view this as a way to make money for the government," Wells said. "The funding is there to reduce the fines. The question is will my colleagues see this as a windfall to fund their pet projects?"

But the District government is far from the only local government to boost its bank account with camera tickets.

D.C. rakes in $85m from traffic cameras (Thanks, Marilyn!)

Anti-traffic-cam countermeasure


NoPhoto is Jonathan Dandrow's electronic countermeasure for traffic-cameras. It's a license-plate frame that uses sensors to detect traffic-cameras, and floods the plate with bright light that washes out the plate number when the cameras take the picture. It's presently a prototype, but he's seeking $80,000 through Indiegogo to get UL certification and go into production.

Dandrow believes that traffic cameras are unconstitutional, because "if you do commit a traffic violation, you should have your constitutionally guaranteed right to face your accuser – and that your accuser should not win by default just because it happens to be a camera that can’t talk in court."

His device is made in the USA, and (he says) it is legal to use in the US.

Here is how a typical traffic camera encounter would happen with the noPhoto installed on your car:

1 The traffic camera fires its flash to illuminate your car for a picture

2 The noPhoto detects the flash, analyzes it, and sends the proper firing sequence to its own xenon flashes

3 The noPhoto precisely times and fires the flash at the exact moment needed to overexpose the traffic camera

4 Since the traffic camera is not expecting the additional light from the noPhoto, all of its automated settings are incorrect and the image is completely overexposed. Your license plate cannot be seen you and you will not get a ticket in the mail.

Dandrow also says that traffic cams cause more accidents than they prevent, citing studies by the Federal Highway Administration and the Virginia Transportation Research Council, "The increase in rear-end collisions alone from people slamming on their brakes to avoid being ticketed is enough to increase accident rates overall."

(via Rawfile)

Brazil to roll out national radio-chip ID/surveillance/logging for all vehicles

In Brazil, a new regulation requires drivers to add radio ID tags to their car windshields, which broadcast "vehicle year or fabrication, make, model, combustible, engine power and license plate number." This will be read by checkpoints throughout the country, and centrally processed and retained, in a system called Siniav. The administration claims that this system will be "confidential and secure" because its contractors will sign confidentiality agreements. The system will also be integrated into wireless toll-road collection. Here's some auto-translated detail from a release by Brazil's National Traffic Department (Denatran):

What are the uses of the system? * Identification of traffic conditions on stretches of road where there Siniav antennas installed.

* Development of origin-destination matrices displacement vehicles, virtually in real time, with the installation of antennas Siniav at strategic points in each city.

* Determination dependable fleet circulating in the country, by location, including the Automobiles licensed in one municipality and exclusively circulating in another.

* Obtaining data for planning and management of public transport systems, including its fleet of vehicles.

* Integration with the project Siniav Brazil-ID (linked to treasury area), helping with mapping the displacements of cargo across the country.

* Greater control the movement of vehicles in the border area since the Brazilian vehicles will be identified when leaving the country. The system also enables the placement of the nameplate vehicle electronics in vehicles foreigners entering Brazil.

* Conducting surveillance (blitz) selective, with instant identification through an antenna Siniav, fixed or mobile, vehicles circulating illegally, whatever the cause.

* Surveillance electron speed and movement of vehicles in places and / or times when such service is prohibited.

* Interoperability in automatic toll collection on highways, allowing a single nameplate vehicle is used by all dealerships. It is up to Detrans deployment of electronic vehicle identification plates on vehicles and the cost of such equipment.

If the thief start the transmitter in a robbery, the radars can detect the vehicle?

Yes Like all vehicles possess the chip, which does not possess will be detected immediately by going through one of the antennas scattered throughout the country. The checkpoint nearest police will be alerted.

Vehicles need to have electronic monitoring until 2014 (auto-translated)

Veículos precisarão ter monitoramento eletrônico até 2014

(Thanks, Ethan!)

Geeky license plate gallery


Wired's Robert McMillan has collected some of the geekiest license plates he can find for a fun little gallery. I've only ever owned a car once, the year I lived in LA, and I was happy to score COPYFYT for my crappy Hyundai (my wife, a gamer, got MAGELFG, only after being turned down for ZOMGWTF). Of course, attentive Boingers will know that our own Jason Weisberger sports the ultimate custom plate: DRUNK.

The Geekiest License Plates of All Time

(Image: rm -rf *, by Michael Foord)

Berlusconite politician caught slashing disabled man's tires

Antonio Piazza, a Milanese government official from Italy's People of Freedom party (that's Silvio Berlusconi's party), has made headlines after he was caught on CCTV slashing the tires of a disabled person's car. Piazza had been in the habit of parking his car in a disabled spot near his office. When a police officer fined him and made him move his car so that a disabled person could use the spot, he returned a few hours later and slashed the guy's tires. He forgot that there were CCTVs on the scene. Here's The Guardian's Tom Kington:

Piazza at first tried to appeal against his parking fine, claiming he had given a lift to a disabled person, but has now grudgingly resigned from his job running a regional housing agency under pressure from his party, claiming: "I made a mistake, but there are people who behave even worse."

As Italy's fiscal police inspect local government accounts up and down the country in the wake of the Lazio scandal, a new report has revealed tax evasion is still endemic among Italy's professions – finding that psychologists fail to declare 40% of their earnings, rising to 42.7% for lawyers. Italians who do pay taxes were shocked to learn of the arrest of the head of a tax-collecting agency on suspicion of embezzling €100m, some of which he spent on lavish parties in Portofino.

Italian politician slashes disabled driver's tyres in parking dispute

Lunatic SUV driver harassing cyclists

YouTube user Dfriel1 and a pal went out for a Sunday bike ride on a road east of Longmont, CO, when a driver in a Ford Explorer (license plate Colorado 893 EKG) pulled up behind them and rode their tails for five minutes*, blaring his horn and holding up the traffic behind them. Despite their having pulled into single file, and despite the ample room for passing, the driver appeared to either want to express a general displeasure for cyclists, or believed that cyclists should actually pull off the road in the presence of cars. They Colorado State Police have received a report, and Dfriel1 says he's located other cyclists who've had run ins with this driver.

As a Founder of TrainingPeaks.com I encourage everyone to get out and ride bikes as part of a healthy lifestyle. Everyone no matter what their age or where they may live should have the right to feel safe when riding whether it be for health, fitness or simply commuting to work.

Insane Driver who obviously doesn't like people on bikes (Thanks, Fipi Lele!)

*Only two minutes are recorded here; in the narration, Dfriel reports that his camera ran out of memory at that point.

Maria Del Camino, a mutant excavator mated to a 59 El Camino, with the face of Maria from Metropolis


Maria Del Camino is Bruce Tomb's magnificent mutant vehicle. It started out life as the body of a '59 El Camino, and was then riddled with thousands of hand-drilled holes, turning it into a meshwork. On the hood, the holes form a pointillist portrait of Maria from Fritz Lang's Metropolis. The whole thing was then mounted on an armature supported by a hydraulic tracked excavator, giving it the ability to rumble along at an angle, or poised many feet above the tank-treads, or vertically.

Bruce is one of my Burning Man campmates at Liminal Labs, and he brought Maria out again this year, and took her out early in the morning to the deep playa -- the area of the desert well away from the main action -- and used a GPS and the excavator blade to carve and burnish a huge piece of vector art out of the desert surface, with the intention of having it captured by the Google satellite flyover. He plans to make this process fully automated in future years, giving Maria the ability to turn herself into a giant, diesel-powered mutated Etch-a-Sketch.

Bruce has just updated Maria's blog with some beautiful photos and videos from this year's burn, and a report from the burnishing experiment:

The maximum deviation of the GPS unit is stated as 33 feet and can be as accurate as 3 feet. The graphic deviation showing in this satellite photo, is purely me following instructions from the device, setting aside my perceptions and judgement. This makes evident that there are greater inaccuracies than stated, and illustrates the inherent paradox of this civilian down market version of an ultra precise technology developed by and for the military. I would be wary of relying on this particular device alone to keep a boat off the rocks.

The western edge of the drawing is on hard playa almost like asphalt, so the line is very shallow. Here, Maria’s blade mostly burnished the playa. The east west lines were especially dramatic and reflected the lavender light of the sunrise. Photos by Anne Klint will be posted soon to show this, but here with this photo, the lines are virtually illegible. The strongest track is the north/south line on the eastern edge of the square. This was due to both the conditions of the playa and the GPS signal/device. The playa in this area was covered with drifts of dust, 6” deep or more, not unlike snow drifts, very soft, and difficult to traverse, even with Maria’s 18” wide rubber tracks. While driving this particular track the signals were quite different than all the rest, perhaps a product of a slower speed. If the resolution of this image were higher, you would see a very tight, regular, serpentine or sinusoidal line with an amplitude of about 15-20 feet and a period of about 50 feet. The noodles at the corners are me following directions from the device to land on a precise waypoint. As I approached a corner, I would slow down and make minor adjustments as needed, inching along to left, to right, back again, then sitting there for about 15 minutes to let the signal settle down to 0 degrees of travel angle and 0 feet distance from my destination.

Maria Del Camino (Thanks, Bruce!)

(Photos by Anne Klint)

Demonic flat tires


Ever wonder where flat tires come from? Demons. It's demons.

The Puncture Fiend-- Foiled! (Atlas Tyres, 1900s)

Folding electric car inches toward the market


Some concrete dates and prices for the Hiroko Fold, a folding electric car that can park in teeny places and turn with "zero radius." The following is from PSFK's Yi Chen:

Researchers from MIT’s Changing Places group and DENOKINN have developed a convenient and eco-friendly car to commute around the city. The Hiriko Fold is an ultra-compact vehicle that can fold upright to fit into tight parking spaces. We first wrote about Hiriko Fold earlier this year, and now it’s been confirmed that the electric car is expected go on sale in 2013 for around $16,000.

The car is able to carry two passengers and is capable of traveling up to 75 miles between charges. The vehicle would also be equipped with zero-turn radius wheels that allow it to move sideways, making parallel parking a less frustrating maneuver. Some of the Hiriko Fold models are on trial in European cities for testing, and the group believes that the compact car would be popular in cities like Berlin, San Francisco, and Barcelona.

MIT’s Tiny Foldable Electric Car Will Retail For $16,000 (via Engadget)

HOWTO drive, the Woz way


Mr Roadshow, a columnist for the San Jose Mercury News, gave over this week's column to an interview with Apple-cofounder and legendary arch-hacker Steve Wozniak about his philosophy of driving and road use, with some reference to his domestic arrangements. As you might expect, Woz has a refreshingly honest and rational approach to the public highway.

Q What is the Golden Road Rule According to Woz?

A Don't offend other drivers. This falls into what I said above. Choose your lane appropriately. The general rule is that slower traffic should stay in the rightmost lanes -- in our country. Although we all hate reckless drivers racing and cutting in and out of lanes, I don't want to interfere with motorists who simply want to go faster, even faster than the speed limit. Road conditions are better at some times and they might have somewhere important to get to, like an airport. Assume that other drivers are good like you. We all want to get somewhere. Let everyone in. It's OK to touch your own brake. We all help each other get to where we are going.

Guest Mr. Roadshow: Steve Wozniak on the rules of the road according to Woz (via MeFi)

(Image: Woz in front of Apple II, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from scobleizer's photostream)

Nested vehicles: A pickup on a dumptruck on a flatbed on a massive truck


Redditor Amiziras posted this photo of several nested trucks, taken last year in West Street, Bedminster, Bristol.

Pickup on a truck on a truck on a truck (imgur.com) (Thank, Sam!)